Indonesia's new defence minister Prabowo Subianto no longer barred from the US

During his time in the army, Prabowo Subianto was accused of being involved in human rights abuses just before his former father-in-law and then-president Soeharto stepped down from power.
During his time in the army, Prabowo Subianto was accused of being involved in human rights abuses just before his former father-in-law and then-president Soeharto stepped down from power.PHOTO: REUTERS

JAKARTA (THE JAKARTA POST) - Gerindra Party chairman Prabowo Subianto, who currently serves as the country's defence minister, is no longer barred from entering the United States, which in the past had denied entry to the former military general, a Gerindra executive has said.

Party deputy chairman Sufmi Dasco Ahmad said that since Mr Prabowo had been inaugurated to lead the defence ministry, the latter had met with representatives of some foreign countries, including that of the US.

"During the meetings, they also extended invitations to (Mr Prabowo) to visit (their countries)," Mr Dasco said on Tuesday (Oct 29).

However, Mr Dasco said it was still unclear when Mr Prabowo could take up the invitations because the Gerindra chairman was still busy adapting to his new job and preparing for future programmes of the Defence Ministry.

"Thus the plans to visit foreign countries, including the US, are not yet scheduled," he added.

During his time in the army, Mr Prabowo was accused of being involved in human rights abuses, including the forced disappearance of 13 prodemocracy activists between 1997 and 1998, just before his former father-in-law and then-president Soeharto stepped down from power.

In 2000, the US State Department denied Mr Prabowo a visa to attend his son's university graduation in Boston, without any explanation, according to a Tempo news magazine report in 2014.

According to the US Embassy in Jakarta, visa records are confidential under US law and, therefore, it cannot reveal the details of individual visa cases.

In 2012, Mr Prabowo told Reuters that he was still denied a US visa due to allegations that Mr Prabowo had instigated riots that killed hundreds of people prior to Soeharto's downfall. The former general has denied all allegations.