Subject: UK turns down visa application from Prabowo
Date: Thu, 22 Oct 1998 15:53:50 +0100 (BST)
Solidamor, Jakarta, 22 October 1998
UK turns down visa application from Prabowo
Some time before the British government authorities arrested General Pinochet, former President of Chile because of the disappearances and killings that occurred while he was in power, we now learn that the British embassy in Jakarta has turned down a visa application from Prabowo, the son-in-law of former President Suharto who was recently dismissed from the Indonesian armed forces.
Prabowo, the former commander of Kostrad, the army's strategic command, and former commander of Kopassus, the army's elite corps, was hoping to visit the UK on a tourist visa at the beginning of October this year. According to an embassy official, his visa application was rejected because the British government did not want to permit a visit by someone thought to have been involved in the disappearance of a number of Indonesian activists and the deaths of many people in Indonesia and East Timor.
Prabowo received much of his education in the UK. Perhaps he can count himself lucky that he did not visit Britain where he might have suffered the same fate as General Pinochet. He is still able to visit the US and Canada without let or hindrance but it is likely that more western countries will tighten up the rules about allowing visits from people involved in political crimes.
In the past few weeks, commentators here in Jakarta have mentioned the names of a number of Indonesian generals responsible for mass killings in Indonesia and East Timor who should be arrested if they visit western countries. They include Suharto, Try Sutrisno, a former armed forces commander and army chief of staff, Prabowo and the current Minister of Information (retired lieutenant-general) Yunus Yosfiah, who now stands accused of ordering the murder of five TV journalists in Balibo on 16 October 1975 as they were preparing to film Indonesian incursions into East Timor.
The British government's refusal to issue a visa to Prabowo and the arrest of Pinochet in Britain show that although it has been impossible as yet for murderers to be brought to trial in on their own authoritarian countries, there are international circumstances which which make it possible for them to be brought to justice abroad. (tass)
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