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Former Military General accused guilty in LTTE arms supply - Indonesia

(By Walter Jayawardhana)

A former Indonesian military General, Erick Wotulo (59), pleaded guilty in the United States Federal court in Baltimore to the charges of money laundering and conspiring to supply sophisticated arms to the proscribed Sri Lankan terrorist group, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam (LTTE).

Wotulo faces a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison for conspiracy to provide material support to a terrorist group and a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison for money laundering. U.S. District Judge Catherine C. Blake scheduled sentencing for May 25.

In this case it was alleged Wotulo and other were conspiring to supply the Sri Lankan terrorist group, the Liberation Tigers of Tamil Eelam also known as the Tamil Tigers with the state of the art firearms, machine guns and ammunition , surface to air missiles, and night vision goggles to fight the Sri Lankan government.

The alleged conspirators in this case were dealing with a fictitious company set up by the FBI in Maryland about the purchasing of military weapons.

Wotulo helped acquire and arranged the proposed delivery to the Tamil Tigers. Wotulo was ensnared in Guam when he went there to transact the business and meet other conspirators and FBI agents posing as arms dealers. He was accused of paying hundreds of thousand dollars of LTTE money to ship high tech weapons restricted by law to the Sri Lankan rebels and Indonesian army.

In a an elaborate sting operation Federal undercover agents put up a Singapore Arms broker in an inner harbor hotel in Baltimore and took him to a camouflaged Police shooting range in the nearby Harford Country to test fire the weapons he was planning to buy .

The 59 year old retired Indonesian General pleaded guilty to the charges of conspiracy to provide material support to a designated foreign terrorist organization and money laundering.

Before this two other Indonesians accused in the case have pleaded guilty. The Acting special agent in charge of the Baltimore office of the Immigration and Custom Enforcement James Denkins said, "This case demonstrates the real threat posed by international arms trafficking and money laundering. Criminals or terrorists can wire funds anywhere in the world in an effort to further their illegal activity, often with no questions asked."

According to the plea agreement revealed in the courts Wotulo conspired with the others beginning in April last year to supply the weapons to the Tamil Tigers in Sri Lanka to seek a separate state there.

The prosecutors in the case said that Wotulo helped his associates, to acquire military technology for the Tamil Tigers requesting prices, negotiating purchases and providing details of ocean routes for the transfer of the arms to the Tamil group in Sri Lanka.

According to the prosecution he also contacted the undercover business in Maryland on June 5 last year and said he and his colleagues wanted to buy weapons. Wotulo said that the Chief of the Tamil Tigers requested that he and another co-defendant travel to Baltimore to arrange weapons purchases.

On September 29 Wotulo arrived in Guam to meet everybody to discuss the shipboard loading of the arms and the munitions destined for the Tamil Tigers. It was in Guam where he and the five others were arrested by US agents.

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