Ambon’s police chief sacked …


Wiranto fires Karyono after a fatal shooting incident involving troops outside a mosque and over his poor performance in quelling public unrest.

ARMED forces (Abri) chief General Wiranto yesterday sacked the police chief of strife-torn Maluku province for failing to control the rapidly deteriorating conditions there.

“I have ordered the head of the national police to replace the Maluku police chief for operational reasons,” he told reporters after a Cabinet meeting at the presidential palace.

He did not elaborate what he meant by “operational reasons”.

But The Straits Times understands that he took the decision on the basis of what a senior Abri officer and Wiranto aide described as “the under performance” of Colonel Karyono.

The police chief was seen as having been unable to quell widespread rioting in Ambon, the capital of Maluku, over the last two months.

The four-star general announced the sacking at a time when public outrage over the grisly violence in Ambon began to manifest itself in street demonstrations in Jakarta, calling on the military to be accountable for the killings there.

Some believe that the decision to axe the Maluku police chief followed the incident on Monday when troops opened fire near a mosque in Ambon during early-morning prayers.

Gen Wiranto alluded to this when he warned yesterday: “There will be no cover-up. Firm action should be taken against whoever was involved, be they military or civilian and whatever their religion or ethnic group.”

Col Karyono has, however, denied reports of the mosque killings.

He said troops fired outside the mosque and that only two people had died, instead of a larger number mentioned in the media.

“The fact that the bodies had been carried into the mosque led to the false reports,” he said.

Two policemen and a soldier are, however, being held for questioning.

The Antara national news agency reported yesterday that Parliament was considering summoning the Abri chief over the incident.

“We are considering summoning General Wiranto for a hearing with the House commission because this incident is no longer a trivial matter,” the agency quoted legislator Aisyah Aminy as saying.

“This slaying of residents has become a protracted problem, giving the impression that the security apparatus is incapable of handling the matter.”

Mr Matori Abdul Djalil, chairman of the National Awakening Party – the political arm of the Nahdlatul Ulama Muslim organisation – said the government was losing credibility over its inability to quell the violence.

The Straits Times could not reach Col Karyono for comments. But his adjutant said that he received news of his imminent dismissal yesterday.

“My boss is calm. He knows he tried his best,’ the aide said.

Gen Wiranto has yet to announce his replacement.

Posted in Indonesia