Indonesia summons Australian envoy over smuggler cash claims

By: | Published: June 15, 2015 3:00 AM

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi has reportedly asked the Australian Government to give an explanation on claims that its authorities paid people smugglers to return 65 asylum seekers to Indonesian waters.

Indonesian Foreign Minister Retno Marsudi has reportedly asked the Australian Government to give an explanation on claims that its authorities paid people smugglers to return 65 asylum seekers to Indonesian waters.

Foreign Minister Marsudi summoned Australia’s Ambassador to Indonesia Paul Grigson on Saturday and asked him about this development.

She told media here that Ambassador Grigson has promised to get in touch with Canberra and to get back to her with an answer.

Marsudi said that this step was necessary in the wake of the police chief from Rote island, Hidayat, where the boat ended up, angrily hitting out at Australian government ministers for denying the allegations of sending the asylum seekers back to Indonesia.

A detailed official report is being investigated by the Indonesian National Police in Jakarta. According to the Sydney Morning Herald, the authorities have reportedly seen photographs of stacks of dollar bills allegedly being paid to the boat crew.

Australia’s Immigration Minister Peter Dutton and Foreign Minister Julie Bishop have denied the payments took place, but Prime Minister Tony Abbott has refused to answer the question, saying: “The Australian government will do whatever we need to do to keep this evil trade stopped.”

Indonesiam Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir said once the national police investigation was completed Indonesia would seek further clarification from the Australian Government.

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