Death-row Indonesian kingpin ran drug ring from prison: police

In this file photo,officers from various Indonesian drug enforcement agencies prepare confiscated narcotics to be destroyed in an incinerator following a ceremony in Jakarta, Indonesia.(Reuters)
Updated 08 February 2018

Death-row Indonesian kingpin ran drug ring from prison: police

JAKARTA: A jailed Indonesian drug lord facing execution ran a meth-and-ecstasy ring from behind bars, police said Thursday, as officials announced his narcotics network had been smashed.
A dozen people were arrested as police said they seized nearly 111 kilos (about 245 pounds) of methamphetamine and more than 18,000 pills of ecstasy in Aceh and North Sumatra provinces.
Convicted drug kingpin Togiman, also known as Toge, ran the group from prison, despite already having been sentenced to death twice for narcotics trafficking, police said, adding that the ring had links to Malaysian organized crime.
“The mastermind was Togiman,” said Sulistiandriatmoko, spokesman for Indonesia’s anti-drugs agency.
“He must have had many other accomplices. (The suspects are) probably just the first few that we have caught. We’ll investigate this further and coordinate with international anti-narcotics (agencies) if needed.”
Togiman, who is in his early 60s, will be charged with drug trafficking, officials said, adding that it would be up to the courts to decide whether he should face another death sentence.
The twelve arrested suspects have been charged with drug trafficking and could face execution or life in prison.
Togiman was already in jail when he was again convicted of drug trafficking and sentenced to death for the second time last year. It is not known when Togiman might be executed
It was also unclear how he was able to operate a criminal network while incarcerated, but corruption-riddled Indonesia’s prisons are known for rampant crime.
“Fifty percent of drug trafficking is being done from inside prisons,” Budi Waseso, head of the anti-drugs agency, told reporters.
Last year, the government vowed to jail guards caught taking bribes from inmates in exchange for special treatment.
In one of the highest profile cases, a businesswoman jailed for corruption was found with banned items in her cell, including a spring mattress, couch, refrigerator, television and air conditioning.
Indonesia has some of the world’s toughest anti-drug laws. Several foreign and Indonesian nationals have been executed by firing squad in recent years for drug trafficking, including Australians Andrew Chan and Myuran Sukumaran in 2015, a case that sparked diplomatic outrage and a call to abolish the penalty.
Indonesia’s President Joko Widodo has said the country is facing a “drug emergency” and previously ordered police to shoot drug traffickers who resist arrest.


Macron hails French Muslim charter against extremism

Updated 28 min 9 sec ago

Macron hails French Muslim charter against extremism

  • “This is a clear, decisive and precise commitment in favor of the republic,” Macron said
  • He hailed the text saying it is “a truly foundational text for relations between the state and Islam in France”

PARIS:President Emmanuel Macron praised French Muslim leaders on Monday after they agreed on a “charter of principles” aimed at combatting sectarianism and radicalized teachings blamed for a surge in jihadist attacks in France in recent years.
The charter offers “a clarification of how the Muslim community is organized,” Macron said after a meeting with representatives of the French Council of the Muslim Faith (CFCM), his office said.
It will also provide a framework for a new National Council of Imams that will be responsible for vetting imams practicing in the country.
“This is a clear, decisive and precise commitment in favor of the republic,” Macron said, hailing “a truly foundational text for relations between the state and Islam in France.”
Macron had urged the council to act against “political Islam” in November after the killing of Samuel Paty, a teacher who was beheaded outside his school after showing controversial cartoons of the Prophet Mohamed as part of a free-speech lesson.
The attack prompted a crackdown against extremist mosques and Islamist associations, along with a vigorous defense of French secularism.
The new 10-point charter “states clearly that the principles of the Muslim faith are perfectly compatible with the principles of the republic,” CFCM president Mohammed Moussaoui told journalists after the meeting.
The accord was hammered out Saturday during a meeting with Interior Minister Gerald Darmanin after weeks of resistance from some CFCM members who objected to a “restructuring” of Islam to make it compatible with French law and values.
Moussaoui said all eight of the CFCM’s federations, representing various strands of Islam, approved the charter, but three had yet to sign the accord because “they need a bit more time to explain what it means to their followers,” an Elysee official said.
Hakim El Karoui, an author and expert on Islam in France, called the intention of the charter “praiseworthy,” but said it also shone a harsh light on internal tensions at the CFCM which he said consists of “five federations financed by foreign countries and three federations that are Islamist.”
El Karoui said “the charter was adopted by people whose interests clash with the text.”
Franck Fregosi, an Islam expert at research institute CNRS, said no other country, and no other religion in France, had a comparable charter.
“I’m not certain that this text, even once it gets signed, will get wide backing from Islam on the ground,” he said.
The imam of the mosque in the southwestern city of Bordeaux, Tariq Oubrou, said the charter had been developed back-to-front.
“It should be Muslim scholars and theologians who write a text and then submit it to the CFCM, not the other way around,” he said.
The charter rejects “instrumentalising” Islam for political ends and affirms equality between men and women, while denouncing practices such as female circumcision, forced marriages and “virginity certificates” for brides.
“No religious conviction whatsoever can be invoked as an exemption from the duties of citizens,” it states.
It also explicitly rejects racism and anti-Semitism, and warns that mosques “are not created for the spreading of nationalist speech defending foreign regimes.”
Macron has also said that authorities plan to expel the roughly 300 imams in France sent to teach from Turkey, Morocco and Algeria.
The charter accord comes as a parliamentary commission began debate Monday over a new draft law to fight “pernicious” Islamist radicalism with measures to ensure France’s strict separation of religious bodies and state in the public sphere.
The legislation would tighten rules on issues from religious-based education to polygamy, though Macron has insisted the goal is to protect all French citizens without stigmatising the country’s estimated four to five million Muslims, the largest number in Europe.