Dutch court rejects bid for Indonesian president's arrest

6th October 2010, Comments 0 comments

A Dutch court on Wednesday rejected an Indonesian dissident group's bid to have the Indonesian president arrested on a state visit to the Netherlands that has since been cancelled.

"The request was denied," Saskia Panchoe, a spokeswoman for the district court of The Hague, told AFP of an application brought by Dutch-based representatives of the South Maluku Republic (RMS) in exile.

Jakarta crushed the RMS shortly after it declared independence in 1950 but the movement was revived after the fall of authoritarian president Suharto in 1998.

The RMS asked the court in The Hague Tuesday for an order to arrest Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono on Dutch soil, accusing him of human rights violations dating back to 1950.

This prompted Yudhoyono to cancel a three-day state visit to the former colonial power just over an hour before his scheduled departure Tuesday.

"My visit there would coincide with trials related to the RMS (South Maluku Republic) in The Netherlands, in which at the time there would be a ruling whether to arrest the president of Indonesia," Yudhoyono said Tuesday.

The Netherlands responded that it regretted Yudhoyono's decision, stressing that all heads of state enjoyed immunity from prosecution under Dutch law and that the president remained welcome in the country.

The court said the reasons for its decision would be made public next week.

"We will wait until next week" to hear the court's reasoning before deciding whether to lodge an appeal, an advocate for the RMS group told AFP.

Among other complaints, the RMS insists that Yudhoyono release 19 Moluccan political prisoners, one of whom recently died according to Amnesty International after being refused medical treatment.

© 2010 AFP

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