Indonesian police nab 10 'pirates' in action

Batam (The Jakarta Post/ANN) - Riau Islands Police arrested 10 members of a group of alleged pirates as they "raided" a Singaporean-flagged vessel in Batam waters in the early hours of Tuesday.

Marine Police Unit director Sr. Comr. Yassin Kosasih told The Jakarta Post that the pirates allegedly raided the Sea Coastar ship as it was anchored in waters off Batu Ampar, Batam.

The ship was reportedly manned by crew members from the Philippines.

It has been reported that four wooden boats carrying five people each were seen approaching the ship at 1 a.m. Tuesday.

Officers from police patrol ship KP Kakak Tua, which had been patrolling the area, later boarded the vessel.

"We caught a number of them but some escaped," Yassin alleged, adding that police also found equipment, including a generator and other parts of a machine inside the wooden boats.

The suspected pirates were identified as IA (20), MY (20), FR (21), DI (23), JL (23), RA (23), MJ (25), HD (26), RI (28) and AH (32).

The members of the group were from Batam and Lingga and were allegedly led by a person identified as Chairul.

"They said it was their first action, but we are not going to believe it and will further investigate to see if what they say is true," Yassin alleged.

He added that the pirating of ships bearing flags of other countries had been on the rise lately and had caused unrest among several foreign ship operators.

In response to complaints, patrols of the waters around Batam have intensified.

"The most complaints have come from Singapore. This arrest is an answer to their complaints," Yassin said.

He said that the alleged pirates would be charged with Article 363 of the Criminal Code on piracy, which carries a maximum penalty of more than five years' imprisonment.

"We are still developing the case to see if it was an act of piracy or a hijacking and if there is a network with older groups already in existence in the area," he said.

The 10 arrested people are currently being detained at the Water Police headquarters in Sekupang, while the ship they were nabbed on board of was still anchored in Batu Ampar.

Separately, the head of the Riau Islands Police's public relation division, Adj. Sr. Comr. Hartono, said the police had nabbed a number of alleged pirates operating in Batam waters over the last two days.

A day before, he said, the Barelang Police's water unit arrested a number of people who were allegedly pirating a ship in the middle of the sea.

"The case was exactly the same. Only the object was different. We are still investigating the case so we have yet been able to give you the details," Hartono said.

He added that the arrests indicated the waters off Batam have become prone to pirate attacks.

COPYRIGHT: ASIA NEWS NETWORK

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