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Position on Bashir made abundantly clear

Rt Hon Winston Peters
Minister of Foreign Affairs

22 June 2006

Position on Bashir made abundantly clear

Indonesia would be in no doubt over New Zealand's desire to see Bali bombing mastermind Abu Baka Bashir prevented from engaging in further acts of terrorism, Foreign Minister Winston Peters said today.

"Today in the House, Mr McCully claimed New Zealand had taken no action over the shortness of Bashir's sentence. That is not correct," Mr Peters said.

"The conviction and sentencing of Bashir preceded my term as Foreign Minister by some time, but the government certainly did raise concerns at the time about the way the case was handled.

"Under my watch, our Ambassador in Jakarta joined other countries that lost citizens to terror attacks in Indonesia in making successful representations expressing concern at a possible reduction in the sentence.

"Despite our disappointment at Bashir's sentence, we do not believe it represents a lack of will on the part of the Indonesian authorities to prosecute all those alleged to be involved in terrorism.

"New Zealand strongly supports Indonesia’s efforts in the war against terrorism. Since his recent election, President Yudhoyono has been unequivocal in his commitment against terrorism.

"The Indonesian government has taken steps to bring the Bali bombers to justice. Its relentless pursuit of Azahari bin Husin bore fruit last November.

"The inability of prosecutors in the justice system to make charges against Bashir stick is a separate matter, and New Zealand does not seek to involve itself in the judicial processes or release conditions of other sovereign nations.

"Mr McCully has a law degree but was never admitted to the Bar, which perhaps explains why he doesn't understand the difference," Mr Peters said.

ENDS

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