Aceh supporters face death penalty, warns Indon police

BANDA ACEH: Students and other activists who support separatist guerrillas in Aceh province will face subversion charges that can carry the death penalty, police said yesterday.  

“We will use the (criminal code) article on subversion, which carries up to the death sentence, against them,” said Sayed Husaini, police spokesman in the province where a major military assault against the rebels is in its third week. 

Husaini said police had a wanted list of activists who supported or assisted the Free Aceh Movement (GAM), as well as evidence against them. He gave no details on the size of the wanted list other than to say “they number a lot.” 

Many were student activists from the Ar-Raniry State Institute for Religious Sciences here or members of non-governmental organisations (NGOs), he said. 

The spokesman cited only one individual, Kautsar bin Muhammad Yus, the son of the head of the provincial parliament. Among the NGOs he cited were the Information Centre on a Referendum for Aceh, which campaigns for an independence referendum, and Society's Solidarity for the People. 

Husainy said police were questioning 70 detained GAM members, including five peace negotiators arrested soon after the government declared martial law and launched its military operation on May 19. 

Two powerful blasts at Kampung Mulia on the outskirts here rocked the city late on Monday but caused no casualties. Husainy said home-made bombs and grenades exploded by GAM were to blame and noted two similar blasts on a previous evening. 

In Lhokseumawe city, three private soldiers accused of beating up two male civilians and a woman faced a court-martial yesterday. They could face up to two years in jail if convicted. 

Military prosecutor Captain Siregar told the court the soldiers lost their temper after villagers at Lawang in Bireuen district on May 27 claimed they did not know anything about GAM members in the area. 

The village head was severely injured in the eye, a woman was beaten up thoroughly and another man lost consciousness. – AFP  

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