Jakarta – The Papuan regional police say they never said that the armed criminal group (KKB) led by Egianus Kogoya had asked for a 5 billion rupiah ransom for the release of Susi Air pilot Philip Mark Mehrtens.
Papua regional police public relations head Senior Commissioner Ignatius Benny Ady explained that they had only said that if the KKB wants to negotiate the government can only offer food, clothing and medicines.
According to Ady, if there was a request for money from the KKB, it would be limited to 5 billion rupiah.
"The police only said that for negotiations it could only offer food, clothing and medicines. If there is a request for an amount of money, it would be limited to Rp5 M", said Ady when contacted on Monday July 10.
"The police never said that EK (Egianus Kogoya) had asked for Rp5 billion" he added.
Earlier, news circulated that Kogoya had asked for 5 billion rupiah as a ransom for the pilot. Later, in a video that circulated, Kogoya denied this.
"So in all of the media on TV as well as media where there has been [reports] on the issue that the Kodap III [Defense Command Area III] asked for 5 billion rupiah, it's nonsense. From where did I ask for 5 billion rupiah", said Kogoya in a video statement received by CNN Indonesia on Saturday July 8.
"I took the pilot not to ask for money. I only ask for independence. Only for that one thing did I take him", he added.
Mehrtens was taken hostage by the KKB group led by Kogoya on February 7 after landing his aircraft at the Paro airstrip in Nduga regency, Papua highlands.
President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo has said that the government is continuing to make efforts to free the New Zealand pilot.
"Don't think that we're doing nothing, yeah. We have made very serious efforts, but we can't reveal what we have done", said Widodo in Jayapura as broadcast on the Presidential Secretariat YouTube channel on Friday July 7. (yoa/fra)
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Polisi Klaim Tak Pernah Sebut KKB Minta Tebusan Rp5 Miliar".]