[Etan-key] NY Times: New Twist in Deaths of Americans in Indonesia
John M Miller
fbp at igc.org
Sat Jan 14 07:03:44 PST 2006
New York Times
January 13, 2006
New Twist in Deaths of Americans in Indonesia
By Raymond Bonner
The New York Times
JAKARTA An Indonesian who was indicted by a federal grand jury in
Washington in connection with the killing of two American school
teachers in Papua Province has admitted to the police that he fired
shots during the ambush, but he also says he saw three men in
Indonesian military uniforms firing at the teachers' convoy, his
lawyer said Friday.
Anthonius Wamang, the accused, who was turned over by the FBI to the
Indonesian police Wednesday, told the police he had been given the
bullets by a senior Indonesian soldier, Wamang's lawyer, Albert
Rumbekwan, said in a telephone interview from Papua.
The administration of President George W. Bush had pushed hard for a
resolution of the case, and expressed satisfaction when Wamang and 11
others suspects, one as young as 14, were detained late Wednesday.
But Wamang's statements will likely prolong the investigation, as
well as complicate efforts of the Bush administration to resume full
military relations with Indonesia. They contradict previous public
statements by senior officials from the U.S. administration that the
Indonesian military was not involved in the ambush.
Wamang, a member of a Papuan separatist organization, said he had
emptied one magazine from an M-16 rifle, Rumbekwan said.
Investigators said previously that they had found scores of bullet
casings at the scene of the ambush, in 2002, on road owned by an
American mining company, Freeport-McMoRan.
Other evidence emerged Friday that could put the United States in an
uncomfortable position in this highly nationalistic country.
According to the men detained Wednesday, they were lured by the FBI
into showing up at a small hotel, and were then promptly turned over
to the Indonesian police.
The U.S. Embassy in Jakarta declined to comment about Wamang's
statements or allegations of an FBI trap.
"We believed we were going to America," Viktus Wanmang, a 57-year-old
farmer who was among those who showed up at the hotel and was then
detained, said in a telephone interview Friday. He was released, as
were three others, on Friday.
The men were told they would be interviewed about the case in the
United States because it would be safer for them there, said Denny
Yomaki, an officer with the Institute for Human Rights Study and
Advocacy in Papua, who spent much of Friday interviewing the men who
had been detained and released. The men were told their families
would be given 650,000 rupiah, or about $70, for each day they were
in the United States, Yomaki said.
The men were told to go to the Amole II Hotel in the town of Timika
on Wednesday evening. They arrived with bags packed for a trip to the
United States, Wanmang and Yomaki said.
But when they reached the hotel, they were met by two FBI agents and
a third American, who some of the men thought was a Freeport
employee, Yomaki said. The FBI agents hustled the men into a truck
with no windows.
"The car was driven at high speeds," Wanmang said. "When we stopped,
when the car door opened, there was a group of police waiting," he said.
None of the men have been charged with any crimes, except Anthonius
Wamang, who has been indicted in the United States on two counts of
murder and eight counts of attempted murder.
Eight Americans were wounded in the ambush, and an Indonesian teacher
was killed, along with two American teachers, Edwin Burgon, of Sun
River, Oregon, and Ricky Spier, of Littleton, Colorado. The teachers
worked at the Freeport school.
Earlier this year, the group Human Rights Study and Advocacy issued a
report connecting Wamang to the Indonesian military. On one occasion,
he was paid by the Indonesian military for his travel to Jakarta, the
The Washington Post Saturday, January 14, 2006
FBI Said Involved in Arrest of 8 Indonesians
By Ellen Nakashima Washington Post Foreign Service
JAKARTA, Indonesia, Jan. 13 -- Eleven men and a teenager met with two
FBI agents at a small hotel in the remote Indonesian province of
Papua on Wednesday night, expecting, they said, to be flown to the
They said they had been assured by intermediaries working with the
agents that in U.S. custody they would be able to defend themselves
against accusations that they murdered two American teachers on a
mountain in Papua one warm August morning in 2002.
Among them was a Papuan separatist fighter, Anthonius Wamang,
indicted in 2004 by a U.S. grand jury for murder in connection with
the killings. Wamang has acknowledged firing at the vehicle in which
the teachers were riding on Aug. 31, 2002, but has said he thought he
was shooting at Indonesian soldiers and is not sure whether the shots
he fired were fatal, according to his attorney, Albert Rumbekwan.
On Wednesday night, Wamang and the others were ready to leave for the
United States, suitcases packed.
"Hurry, hurry," the FBI agents told them, several recounted, as they
were hustled into a windowless container truck. "The plane is waiting
on the runway."
After coaxing the group into the truck, the agents and a U.S. Embassy
official handed the vehicle over to Indonesian police officers and
left for the airport in the small town of Timika, according to an
intermediary who was present. The Indonesian police took the 12 to
the local police station, where authorities interrogated them until morning.
Eight of them, including the teenager, were still in custody on
Friday. Police said the government intended to charge them with the
murder of Ricky Lynn Spier, 44, and Edwin Burgon, 71, who was the
principal of a school run by Freeport-McMoRan Copper & Gold. The
U.S.-based company operates one of the world's largest gold and
copper mines in Papua.
U.S. officials here declined to confirm details of the arrest but
acknowledged that the FBI and Indonesian authorities had been
cooperating in the case.
In Washington, FBI spokesman Bill Carter said agents were in Papua at
the time of the arrests but that he had no information on the
assertion that they had lured the suspects with promises of a trip to
the United States.
"Our understanding in this is that Indonesian authorities were
planning to prosecute individuals in this case," Carter said. "We
obviously reserve the right to seek extradition in the future."
The alleged bait-and-switch tactic angered human rights activists and
the four men, part of the original group of 12, who were released in
a province where deep-seated grievances against the central
government have fueled a separatist movement. The activists charge
that the Jakarta government cannot be trusted to protect the detainees.
"We were planning to end our problems from the 2002 incident in
America," said one of those released, Victus Wamang, 57, the brother
of the man indicted in the United States. "But right now, I'm feeling
really, really sorry that I trusted these Americans. I thought that
they would not deceive the Papuans. Right now, I've lost all trust in
The case had complicated relations between the two countries. At
times, U.S. investigators were hampered by a lack of cooperation.
Early on, agents were tailed by special police. But now, both sides
hail the arrests as evidence of good cooperation.
An initial police report implicated the military in the killings, and
U.S. officials at the time said the evidence indicated possible
military involvement. But today, both Indonesian and U.S. officials
have said that Anthonius Wamang and other members of the Free Papua
Movement are guilty.
Two Papuans, Eltimus Omaleng and Willy Mandowen, who were friends
with the detainees, helped the FBI negotiate with Wamang and the
others. The FBI pledged that the detainees would be transferred to
the United States for trial, Omaleng said. FBI agents told him "to
make this promise to the people," Omaleng said. "This problem would
be solved by U.S. law."
Mandowen and Omaleng arranged for the surrender to take place at the
Amole II hotel in Timika.
"Now, after I helped them, they betrayed us," Omaleng said. "And my
friends thought that I am the one who sold them out to the FBI."
Anton Bahrul Alam, a spokesman for the national police, said, "That's
their right to feel deceived. But one thing I know for sure is we
have been targeting them for a long time."
Wamang, who the U.S. indictment describes as a separatist rebel
commander, acknowledged in a 2004 Australian television documentary
that he fired his weapon at the scene. But according to Rumbekwan,
Wamang said he believed he was shooting at Indonesian soldiers on a
mountain road on Freeport property heavily patrolled by the military.
Wamang said he witnessed "retaliation fire" from another group on the
ground that he said were Indonesian soldiers.
Under interrogation, Wamang told Indonesian police in a sworn
affidavit that he acquired six magazine clips with 180 bullets from
security forces, Rumbekwan said. The bullet casings were found on the
ground at the ambush scene, Rumbekwan acknowledged.
Human rights activists and others analyzing the case charge that the
truth will be harder to determine in the Indonesian court system,
where witness intimidation is common and the military wields influence.
S. Eben Kirksey, a U.S. specialist on Papua and a PhD student at the
University of California at Santa Cruz, said his research, including
interviews with witnesses and participants, indicated that Wamang was
set up by Indonesian security forces.
"He was there several days prior to the attack, camped out, waiting
for information about reported movements of Indonesian troops,"
Kirksey said. "Specifically, he indicated to people in conversations
prior to going up to the site that he didn't intend to shoot white
people, that he was planning to wage war with the Indonesian military."
The detainees were to be moved to Jakarta on Saturday, police said.
In November, the Bush administration, citing national security
interests, lifted restrictions on military financing to Indonesia,
continuing a process of restoring full military ties. U.S. aid will
continue to be guided by progress on human rights, democratic reform
and accountability, a State Department spokesman said this month.
Staff writers Dan Eggen and Dana Priest in Washington and special
correspondent Andy Saputra in Jakarta contributed to this report.
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