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Indonesian police arrest 'gun-running pastor'

Reverend Paniel Kogoya is accused of supplying arms to rebels in the restive Papua region

Indonesian police arrest 'gun-running pastor'

Paniel Kogoya (right) is seen holding a rifle after being arrested by Indonesian police on suspicion of supplying arms to separatists. (Photo: Nemangkawi Task Force)

Indonesian police have arrested a Protestant pastor in Papua for allegedly supplying arms to separatist rebels in the restive region.

Reverend Paniel Kogoya, from the Advent Church in Kali Bobo, a village in Nabire district, was arrested on suspicion of supplying guns to the Free Papua Movement, said M. Iqbal Alqudusi, spokesman of the Nemangkawi Task Force, a unit established by the Indonesian National Police in 2019 to fight the separatists.

He was arrested on April 18 based on information from two suspects who said during questioning that they sold him arms, Alqudusi told reporters in Jakarta on April 21. 

He said Kogoya was being detained and questioned in Nabire district police jail. 

Alqudusi said Kogoya had been supplying arms used to attack security forces and civilians in Papua since 2018 and had recently supplied rebels in Intan Jaya district with four M4 and M16 rifles. 

Papua police chief Inspector-General Mathius D. Fakhiri said Kogoya got the money to buy the guns by asking local people to make church donations and through business ventures. 

A low-level insurgency seeking independence from Indonesia has been raging in Papua for decades.

His arrest follows those of several military and police personnel on suspicion of selling guns to the separatist group.

A policeman was also arrested on April 18 in Intan Jaya for allegedly supplying rebels with ammunition. 

A low-level insurgency seeking independence from Indonesia has been raging in Papua for decades.

This month rebels were blamed for shooting dead four civilians including two teachers and a student in Puncak district and for burning two schools. 

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Theo Hesegem, executive director of the Papua Justice and Human Integrity Foundation and a human rights defender, said his organization would support anyone falsely accused of breaking the law, but in this case evidence suggested Kogoya could be guilty. He did not say what this evidence could be.

“If he is proven to have committed the crime, then he must be held responsible for his actions,” he said. 

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