December 9, 2020, 03.24 AM

JAKARTA, – Former Indonesian Vice President Jusuf Kalla has denied rumors that he facilitated the return of Islamic Defenders Front chief Rizieq Shihab from his three-year exile in Saudi Arabia last November.

The former vice-president of President Joko Widodo and his predecessor President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono admitted that he went to the holy Muslim city of Mecca in Saudi Arabia on October 24, three weeks before Rizieq returned to Indonesia.

But he insisted that the trip was spiritual in nature.

“I went to Mecca to sign an MoU to build a museum dedicated to the Prophet Muhammad in Jakarta, following a stopover from the Vatican,” Kalla said to Berita Satu editor-in-chief Claudius Boekan, who permitted to quote him, on Friday, December 4.

Also read: Former Indonesian VP Jusuf Kalla Continues Global Humanitarian Work

“I did not facilitate Rizieq’s return to Indonesia so as to clear the way for Jakarta Governor Anies Baswedan to win the 2024 presidential election,” he insisted.

“I also did not bring a large amount of cash for Rizieq before he returned to Indonesia. Doing so is impractical and attracts customs officials who believe doing so is money laundering.”

Allegations of Kalla’s role in Rizieq’s return to Indonesia were voiced by former Democrat Party legislator Ferdinand Hutahaean and academic Rudi S. Kamri.

The two mentioned a ‘Charlie Chaplin’ lookalike who brought a suitcase of money for the 2022 midterm elections and the 2024 presidential race. Netizens assumed the individual was Kalla.

His daughter Muswirah has reported Ferdinand and Rudi to the police under Indonesia's Electronic Information and Transaction Law for slander.

Indonesian National Police spokesman Inspector General Argo Juwono at a press conference (28/10/2020)ANTARA FOTO/SIGID KURNIAWAN Indonesian National Police spokesman Inspector General Argo Juwono at a press conference (28/10/2020)

Also read: Jakarta Police Gun Down 6 Alleged FPI Members on Outskirts of Capital

Meanwhile, the Indonesian National Police took over the investigation of the standoff between the Jakarta Metropolitan Police and FPI members outside Jakarta which killed six of the latter on Monday, December 7.

National Police spokesman Inspector General Argo Yuwono confirmed the move. “The [National] Police are examining CCTV footage of the incident as well as the vehicles used by police officers and the FPI, as evidence.” 

“Investigators from the National Police will also determine who owned the gun used by the FPI, as well as verify the information that their followers will back Rizieq as he is interrogated by the police. We also arranged for the dead men’s remains to be returned to their loved ones.”

The police are also searching for four FPI members who fled from the gunfight. The FPI denied the police version of events, and maintained that they have no firearms.

(Writers: Rakhmat Nur Hakim, Devina Halim | Editors: Diamanty Meiliana, Bayu Galih)


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