Indonesia sentences Pole to five years’ jail for links to Papuan rebels

Polish national Jakub Skrzypski, center, listens to an interpreter as his Indonesian co-defendant Simon Magal looks on during sentencing. (AP Photo)
Updated 02 May 2019
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Indonesia sentences Pole to five years’ jail for links to Papuan rebels

  • Jakub Fabian Skrzypski was accused of plotting to overthrow the Indonesian government and making contact with an outlawed separatist group
  • Jakarta is deeply sensitive about Papua, where a low-level insurgency has simmered for years, and routinely blames separatists for violence in the region

WAMENA, Indonesia: A Polish man was sentenced to five years in prison for treason on Thursday after meeting with rebels in the restive Indonesian province of Papua.
Jakub Fabian Skrzypski, 39, was arrested in August and accused of plotting to overthrow the Indonesian government and making contact with an outlawed separatist group.
“The charges of treason have been proven legally and convincingly,” said Wamena district court head judge Yajid, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.
Skrzypski has denied all wrongdoing and his lawyer Latifah Anum Siregar told AFP he would appeal the verdict, which was lighter than the 10 years’ jail demanded by prosecutors.
Jakarta is deeply sensitive about Papua, where a low-level insurgency against the central government has simmered for years, and routinely blames separatists for violence in the region.
Prosecutors said the Pole had met with leaders of the Free Papua Organization (OPM) and was found with documents and video detailing the Papuan struggle for independence.
Papua shares a border with independent Papua New Guinea (PNG), just north of Australia.
The former Dutch colony declared itself independent in 1961, but neighboring Indonesia took control of the region two years later on the condition it allow a referendum on independence.
About 1,000 handpicked Papuans then unanimously chose to be part of Indonesia in the UN-backed vote, which many consider a sham.
One of Indonesia’s poorest regions, Papua has seen several spasms of violence over the past year, including in December when at least 16 employees of a state-owned company — who were building bridges in a major infrastructure push for the impoverished region — were killed by separatist rebels.
Indonesian security forces have long been accused of rights abuses against Papua’s ethnic Melanesian population including extrajudicial killings of activists and peaceful protesters.


Trump sets $8bn-plus in arms sales to Saudi Arabia and UAE

Updated 26 May 2019
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Trump sets $8bn-plus in arms sales to Saudi Arabia and UAE

  • Pompeo says US partners in Mideast need contracts to be completed to help deter Iran
  • Trump’s administration also announced that it was sending 1,500 additional troops to the Middle East

WASHINGTON: US President Donald Trump, declaring a national emergency because of tensions with Iran, has swept aside objections from Congress to complete the sale of over $8 billion of weapons to Saudi Arabia, the UAE and Jordan.

The Trump administration informed congressional committees that it will go ahead with 22 military sales to the Saudi Arabia, UAE and Jordan, infuriating lawmakers by circumventing a long-standing precedent for congressional review of major weapons sales.

Members of Congress had been blocking sales of offensive military equipment to Saudi Arabia and the UAE for months.

Several of Trump’s fellow Republicans, as well as Democrats, said they would object to such a plan, fearing that blowing through the “holds” process would eliminate Congress’ ability to check not just Trump but future presidents from selling weapons where they liked.

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo said in a statement that US partners in the Middle East needed the contracts to be completed to help deter Iran, and that the decision to circumvent Congress was meant to be a “one-time event.”

In documents sent to Congress, Pompeo listed a wide range of products and services that would be provided to the countries. These include Raytheon precision-guided munitions (PGMs), support for Boeing Co. F-15 aircraft, and Javelin anti-tank missiles, which are made by Raytheon and Lockheed Martin Corp. 

Iranian malign activity poses a fundamental threat to the stability of the Middle East and to American security at home and abroad. Mike Pompeo

US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo

Other companies that will benefit include General Electric, now cleared to sell engines for use in F-16 fighter jets operated by the UAE, and the US unit of French firm Thales, which was cleared to sell a fuzing system for Paveway IV precision-guided bombs to Britain and the UAE.

It will also likely be welcome news for Britain’s BAE Systems Plc and Europe’s Airbus, clearing the way for installation of Paveway laser-guided bombs on European-built Eurofighter and Tornado fighter jets sold to Saudi Arabia, as well F-15 fighters built by Boeing.

In his memorandum justifying the emergency declaration, Pompeo listed years of actions by Iran. “Iranian malign activity poses a fundamental threat to the stability of the Middle East and to American security at home and abroad,” he wrote and cited “a number of troubling and escalatory indications and warnings” from Tehran.

Trump’s administration also announced that it was sending 1,500 additional troops to the Middle East, which it described as an effort to bolster defenses against Iran over what it sees as a threat of potential attack.

Members of Congress from both parties have worried that Trump is pushing toward war with Iran. Clarke Cooper, assistant secretary of state for political-military affairs, said the administration was responding to important needs from partners.

“This is about deterrence and it’s not about war,” he told Reuters in a telephone interview.