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Monday, 22 April, 2002, 09:49 GMT 10:49 UK
Moluccan separatist charged with treason
A Christian separatist leader in Indonesia's Moluccan islands, who was detained last week, has been charged with treason, a police spokesman has said.

Police in Maluku province said Alex Manuputty, leader of the Maluku Sovereignty Front (FKM), was charged over the weekend.

He was jailed last week after he threatened to raise banned separatist flags in the city of Ambon on 25 April, the 52nd anniversary of a failed independence attempt.

There is a fragile peace process in the region following the signing of a deal between Muslims and Christians earlier this year.

The peace deal ended three years of fighting between the two sides which left more than 5,000 people dead.

"We have enough evidence to show that he [Mr Manuputty] was agitating people during a fragile time in which we are working toward peace," said Lieutenant Colonel Johny Tangkudung.

Curfew

The province remains under a state of civil emergency, which means the government can arrest people without warrant, disband organisations or crowds, impose curfews and order the closure of an area to outsiders.

Maluku Vice Governor Paula Renyaan has ordered a 2200-0600 curfew from Tuesday to Saturday this week in anticipation of the planned flag-raising ceremony.

Mr Manuputty was also briefly arrested last year after he and FKM members and sympathisers tried to raise a separatist flag at his home.

If he is convicted of treason he faces life imprisonment.

The Maluku Sovereignty Front is a small group banned for its aggressive campaign to achieve independence for the southern part of the Moluccan islands.

The group wants Indonesia to allow a referendum on whether the region should become independent, similar to the United Nations-supervised vote in East Timor in 1999.

The numbers of Christians and Muslims are almost evenly split in the Moluccas, while Indonesia as a whole is 85% Muslim.



See also:

05 Apr 02 | Asia-Pacific
Indonesia hunts bomb suspects
03 Apr 02 | Asia-Pacific
Bomb blast in the Moluccas
28 Feb 02 | Asia-Pacific
Deadly foes embrace in Ambon
14 Feb 02 | Asia-Pacific
Bomb blasts follow Moluccan peace deal
12 Feb 02 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Moluccan peace deal
26 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Troubled history of the Moluccas
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