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Indonesia blames rogue police for violence at Papua's Freeport mine

Geoff Thompson reported this story on Thursday, July 16, 2009 12:51:17

PETER CAVE: Indonesia's national police spokesman has confirmed that five policemen were injured
yesterday in fresh violence near Papua's multibillion dollar Freeport mine - the fifth such attack
in as many days.

Hundreds of Freeport workers have been ordered to stay at home rather than risk their lives on the
remote road to the mine where Australian Drew Grant was shot dead on Saturday. Two others have died
since then.

While there are still no official suspects, some observers fear that a struggle over the lucrative
security contract at the mine is underway and Indonesia's Defence Minister has conceded that
"rogue" elements within the military or the police could well be involved.

Jakarta correspondent Geoff Thompson reports.

GEOFF THOMPSON: Papua's town of Timika is not a comfortable place. Everything official there is
done in unflinching service to the vast Freeport gold and copper mine and the billions of dollars
in revenue it generates for the Indonesian state and those others lucky and brazen enough to get a
slice of the profits before they are funnelled back to the United States.

The Freeport mine is perhaps Indonesia's largest taxpayer. Even Indonesia's Defence Minister Juwono
Sudarsono knows that its vast wealth means there's much to fight over on the ground.

JUWONO SUDARSONO: There's enough riverline (phonetic) to allow some lucrative business in panning
gold because the area, the mountainous area, has enough gold to be sieved down by water. That's
quite lucrative, maybe we can earn $3,000 to $3,500 a month.

GEOFF THOMPSON: Juwono Sudarsono speculates that perhaps the recent violence, which led just
yesterday to two more policemen being shot and three more otherwise injured, is a turf war between
criminal gangs for control over Freeport's gold-panning profits.

But many observers as well as sources within Freeport talk of rackets run not by anonymous criminal
gangs, but by members of Indonesia's military and police themselves.

Andreas Harsono is a Papua specialist who investigated the killings of two American teachers on the
Freeport road in 2002 and is now a consultant to Human Rights Watch. He says, no matter what the
good intentions may be from political or even military leaders in Jakarta, on the ground, heavily
militarised Papua is a law unto itself.

ANDREAS HARSONO: In Papua, you cannot imagine how powerful the military is. It is so powerful. Even
a lieutenant, just a lieutenant can terrorise a town, can rule a town. They control illegal
activities, prostitutions.

GEOFF THOMPSON: More than a dozen people have been questioned over the murder of Australian Drew
Grant and the continuing violence along the Freeport road. But with still no official suspects,
Defence Minister Juwono Sudarsono advises against speculating about the involvement of his military
or police. But he does concede that so-called "rogue elements" from the country's security forces
could be playing a part.

JUWONO SUDARSONO: But at the moment, there is no verifiable proof that active military or active
police are involved in the shooting.

PETER CAVE: Indonesia's Defence Minister Juwono Sudarsono speaking in Jakarta. That report from
Indonesia Correspondent Geoff Thompson.