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Jordan denies Prabowo sought citizenship

Indonesian Observer - January 12, 1999

Jakarta – The Jordanian ambassador yesterday said former president Soeharto's reviled son-in-law, Prabowo Subianto, who is suspected of engineering a series of kidnappings and mass riots, had never applied for citizenship in his country.

The remark contradicted a statement last month by Prabowo that he had rejected an offer of Jordanian citizenship. Jordanian officials in Amman earlier said that Prabowo, who has been embroiled in the abduction of political activists while Soeharto was still in power, had been granted honorary citizenship.

However, Jordanian Ambassador Luay Al Khashman said his government had no record of an application for citizenship from Prabowo, who was in Jordan when the reports first emerged. "The case was only press reports which were not true," he was quoted as saying by AP after a meeting with President B.J. Habibie.

Eleven members of the Army's Kopassus special forces are on trial for the kidnappings that took place in early 1998, shortly before Soeharto was forced to relinquish power after mass riots and protests against his 32-year ironhanded rule.

Prabowo was a commander of Kopassus at the time and admitted wrongdoing to military investigators. He was dismissed, but has not been charged. Thirteen activists remain missing, and are widely believed to have been slain by the military.

Under Habibie, the military has pledged to pursue those implicated in human rights abuses, but many analysts doubt whether the masterminds of state-sanctioned violence will ever be brought to justice.

A government-backed panel of investigators has implicated Prabowo in last year's May riots that killed 1,200 people in Jakarta in the days before Soeharto's downfall.

Critics have suggested military hard-liners, such as Prabowo, provoked the violence to justify a crackdown on government opponents. In a letter to the media, Prabowo has denied he engineered the riots.