Chief Security Minister Vows to Settle Controversy Over Import of Weapons

Indonesia's Chief Security Minister Wiranto, center, with TNI Chief Gatot Nurmantyo, left, and Police Chief Tito Karnavian at a ceremony for Pancasila Sanctity Day on Oct. 1, 2017. (Antara Photo/Rosa Panggabean)

By : Robertus Wardi & Farouk Arnaz | on 12:30 PM October 04, 2017
Category : News

Jakarta. Indonesia's chief security minister said on Tuesday (03/10) he will summon the country's chiefs of police and the military to end a controversy surrounding the procurement of hundreds of weapons by the police, which has put the force into direct conflict with the military and sparked concerns over national security.

Military Chief Gen. Gatot Nurmantyo claimed last month that "an institution outside the TNI (the Indonesian military)" had illegally imported 5,000 pieces of weapons, a statement which was quickly dismissed by Chief Security Minister Wiranto.

But the police later admitted they had indeed imported 280 pieces of weapons soon after reports swirled around that a shipment of weapons was being held up in customs — waiting for military clearance — at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Banten near Jakarta.

Wiranto, who had said the weapons in question were being brought into the country by the State Intelligence Agency (BIN), is planning to summon Gatot and Police Chief Gen. Tito Karnavian to a meeting this week to clear up matters.

"This is my responsibility... I will get to the bottom of it," Wiranto told reporters at his office in Central Jakarta. "No need for anyone to create a ruckus."

National Police Spokesman Insp. Gen. Setyo Wasisto concurred with Wiranto's statement, refusing on Tuesday to make further comment on the matter.

"It's not up to us... the chief security minister will handle it," Setyo told reporters at his office in South Jakarta.

The weapons arrived at Soekarno-Hatta Airport late on Friday night, and police were quick to hold a press conference on Saturday to insist they had followed proper procedures to import them.

Police said the weapons were tear-gas launchers for their Mobile Brigade (Brimob), dismissing accusations they were anti-tank weapons.

The weapons, imported along with almost 6,000 ammunitions, have been awaiting clearance from the military's Strategic Intelligence Agency (BAIS), police said.

Minister Wiranto said on Tuesday the weapons had been procured legally, but added: "We'll see if there are procedures that have yet to be met. We'll settle them as soon as possible."

Wiranto had earlier said the only weapon procurement he knew of was BIN's purchase of 500 non-military standard weapons from state-owned arms manufacturer Pindad, to be used for intelligence training.

The whole controversy was only a matter of miscommunication, Wiranto said on Tuesday.

Military Chief Gatot had attracted harsh criticism for his claim last month, which he made before a group of retired army generals at the military headquarters in East Jakarta.

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