Indonesian spy chief calls on fugitives to surrender

Many have fled overseas, and he warns them to turn themselves in or be hunted down

Spy chief Sutiyoso urged Indonesian fugitives, many of whom are believed to have fled overseas, to return home before he hunts them down.

"I'm going to look for them even at the ends of the earth, so their best option is to surrender," said the former Jakarta governor and current head of the National Intelligence Agency (BIN) yesterday.

Indonesia has 33 names on its wanted list, and among them is long-time fugitive Eddy Tansil, reported Tempo news yesterday.

The former businessman was convicted of embezzling about 1.3 trillion rupiah (S$133 million) in state bank loans and given a life sentence in 1994. He escaped two years later and is said to be living in China since then.

Mr Sutiyoso said nabbing such fugitives is a key policy of the Joko Widodo government and BIN has a plan to track down those on the list.

His warning for fugitives to turn themselves in comes after Indonesia caught Samadikun Hartono and Hartawan Aluwi, two other high-profile businessmen who were convicted of white-collar crimes.

Last week, Samadikun was extradited from China, and Hartawan was removed from Singapore.

The extradition of Samadikun from China was seen as a major coup for BIN, with Jakarta able to secure him without giving in to Beijing's demand to extradite four Uighur terrorists detained in Indonesia in exchange for the Indonesian.

The return of Hartawan from Singapore to Indonesia, on the other hand, was part of back-channel efforts between the two countries, said Mr Atmadji Sumarkidjo, a senior official from the Coordinating Ministry of Political, Legal and Security Affairs.

The move, however, was conducted in lieu of an extradition agreement between the two states. This is because even though Indonesia and Singapore signed an extradition treaty in 2007, Indonesian lawmakers have yet to ratify it.

"We have not ratified the extradition treaty with Singapore, so we do this on the basis of the good relationship between our two countries," Mr Atmadji had said on Tuesday. He also said Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi had given Singapore a list of Indonesia fugitives.

However, he has since clarified that there was no such list, although the authorities here regularly share information with their Singapore counterparts as part of bilateral cooperation in law enforcement.

Indonesia's Foreign Ministry yesterday said it was not aware of the list, while a Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) spokesman said Singapore has not received such a list from Indonesia.

The MFA spokesman, however, said Singapore will "continue to work with Indonesia in dealing with criminal matters, in accordance with our own laws and international obligations".

Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir yesterday said efforts to move fugitives in or out of Indonesia can be done through "extradition, mutual legal assistance, or the transfer of convicts".

"Beyond these various methods are other ways such as through the good relationships and coordination between two countries, and an example is between Indonesia and Singapore (where) we brought home the fugitive without an extradition agreement," he said, referring to Hartawan.

"It shows just how important having a good relationship between two countries can help... but we must respect the laws of the respective countries," he added.

• Additional reporting by Wahyudi Soeriaatmadja

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 29, 2016, with the headline 'Indonesian spy chief calls on fugitives to surrender'. Print Edition | Subscribe