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Indonesian military claims New Zealand hands over release plan of Susi Air pilot to govt

Tempo - March 26, 2024

Yohanes Maharso and Defara Dhanya, Jakarta – Commander of the XVII/Cenderawasih Military Regional Command, Major General Izak Pangemanan, said the New Zealand Ambassador has handed over the plan for the release of his citizen to the Indonesian government. To date, Susi Air pilot Philip Mark Mehrtens has been held hostage by the armed separatist group in Papua since February 7, 2023.

"The ambassador [of New Zealand] has met with me and said that the New Zealand government fully surrenders to the Indonesian government regarding the release of one of its detained citizens," Izak said in his statement at the TNI Headquarters in Central Jakarta, Monday, March 25.

Izak said the New Zealand government recognized Indonesia's sovereignty in Papua and urged the KKB led by Egianus Kogoya to immediately release Philip.

"Because this civilian (Philip) doesn't know anything. It has nothing to do with the Free Papua Movement, nothing to do with the Papua conflict. He's just a plane driver," he said.

Izak also highlighted the impact of the hostage-taking of the Susi Air pilot on the transportation of food to Papua. "At the moment, the transportation of food is still going well. Without Susi Air, all airlines continue to operate well," he added.

He also said that the military had guaranteed that Philip Mehrtens was in good condition. "They (KKB) are taking good care of him."

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/1849673/indonesian-military-claims-new-zealand-hands-over-release-plan-of-susi-air-pilot-to-gov