Indonesia, China plan to sign extradition pact

Indonesia's Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan. PHOTO
Indonesia's Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan. PHOTOPHOTO: ST FILE

Jakarta going after graft fugitives hiding in China, Hong Kong and Macau

Indonesia and China plan to sign an extradition treaty in a bid to arrest fugitives, particularly those convicted of corruption and suspected of hiding in China, Hong Kong and Macau, said Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Luhut Binsar Pandjaitan.

"We have deported many Chinese citizens who commit crime or who have legal problems. We hope it works both ways and such cooperation will strengthen if we have an extradition agreement," Mr Luhut was quoted by the state news agency Antara as saying during an official visit to Beijing this week.

He led an Indonesian delegation to China earlier this week to meet Chinese State Councillor Yang Jiechi. At their meeting, both parties agreed to increase economic, security and legal cooperation. They also agreed to have more joint efforts to promote law enforcement, anti-terrorism and drug control, among other things.

Mr Yang agreed the two countries should sign an extradition treaty, Antara reported. Both leaders also agreed to further promote cooperation in projects including power plants, railways and agriculture.

The two countries currently deport fugitives within the diplomatic framework of a mutual legal assistance (MLA) pact.

The two countries currently deport fugitives within the diplomatic framework of a mutual legal assistance (MLA) pact. With MLA, one country can gain access to interrogate criminals detained in the partner country, as well as to get evidence and seize the criminals' assets.

With MLA, one country can gain access to interrogate criminals detained in the partner country, as well as to get evidence and seize the criminals' assets.

An extradition treaty will facilitate the return of the criminals to their home country, Mr Luhut Pangaribuan, who teaches international criminal law at the University of Indonesia, told The Straits Times.

"Extradition is important for Indonesia, as well as for China, but chances of Indonesians fleeing to China are far greater than otherwise," Mr Pangaribuan said.

China's huge geography provides a good cover for Indonesian graft fugitives who easily blend in with the locals, according to Mr Pangaribuan. Many of the graft fugitives from Indonesia are ethnic Chinese.

Last week, an Indonesian tycoon who misused central bank bailout funds, Samadikun Hartono, was brought home from China, after fleeing Indonesia more than a decade ago. The high-profile businessman was caught in China shortly after he arrived in Shanghai to watch the Formula One race.

The deportation of Samadikun from China was seen as a major coup for Indonesia, with Jakarta able to secure him without giving in to Beijing's demand to hand over its ethnic Uighur militants detained in Indonesia in exchange.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 30, 2016, with the headline 'Indonesia, China plan to sign extradition pact'. Print Edition | Subscribe