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Indonesia Arrests 3 Soldiers in Eluay Murder Case - 2002-04-16


The Indonesian military says three of its officers have been arrested in connection with the murder of an independence leader last year in Papua province. Military officials confirm that three members of the Indonesian special forces unit have been arrested in connection with the murder of Theys Eluay. A military statement describes the suspects as "rogues", but does not reveal their identities. The statement says the military intends to take stern action against them, if an investigation proves their guilt.

Mr. Eluay was found dead in his car last November, after he had attended dinner at a military base in Papua's capital Jayapura. His driver has been missing since the attack and human rights officials presume he also is dead.

Mr. Eluay was the leader of the Papua Presidium Council, an independence organization encompassing dozens of smaller groups. The Council has been campaigning for international recognition of Papua's claims of independence from Indonesia.

Human rights officials in Papua have called Mr. Eluay's death an "assassination" carried out by the military.

Formerly known as Irian Jaya, Papua has been an Indonesian province since 1969. Indonesia annexed the territory, making up the western half of Papua New Guinea, after an independence referendum. Independence leaders say that vote was rigged and Papua should be independent.

Jakarta passed new laws last year giving the province more autonomy, but Papuan activists say they want nothing less than full independence.

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