President Joko Widodo is said to have given the green light to process the extradition of Singaporean Lim Yong Nam to the United States, even as a court yesterday heard a suit that Mr Lim filed against the police for detaining him in Batam longer than is allowed by Indonesian law.
Mr Lim, 40, is on the American wanted list for breaching a US trade embargo against Iran.
Indonesian Foreign Ministry spokesman Arrmanatha Nasir said that through diplomatic channels, the US requested Indonesia on Nov 10 to extradite Mr Lim.
Mr Arrmanatha said although Indonesia does not have an extradition treaty with the US, it is possible to do so with the President's permission. "The President has indicated his agreement to the extradition request, but provided there is a court decision on this," he said, adding that the process could take several weeks.
Mr Lim's lawyer, Mr Zevrijn Boy Kanu, said the Singaporean has been detained for more than five months, while the law allows police to detain a suspect for up to 50 days without pressing charges.
"Police said they could detain him for as long as they need, based on Indonesia's 1979 Extradition Law, but Indonesia does not have an extradition treaty with the US. They can't use the law," Mr Boy said.
Mr Lim is asking the Batam district to order his release and slap the Riau provincial police with a fine of slightly over one billion rupiah (S$100,000) to compensate him for reputational damage.
The first hearing yesterday was adjourned to next Monday, when police are scheduled to answer to Mr Lim's claim. The court will have to make a ruling within seven days from yesterday.
Mr Lim was arrested at Batam Centre ferry terminal when he sought to enter Indonesia on Oct 23 to attend a trade exhibition. He has been detained in Batam since, even though he has not committed an offence in Indonesia.
The US had accused him of acquiring 6,000 radio frequency modules for export to Iran and asked Singapore to extradite him. But he was not extradited as the Singapore High Court found that the wrongdoing he was accused of was not an offence in Singapore.
"The consulate in Batam has been rendering consular assistance to Mr Lim Yong Nam and family since the day he was detained," said Mr Gavin Chay, a Singapore consular official in Batam.
Mr Lim's wife, May, 40, who attended the hearing yesterday, filed an appeal to the Indonesian government to free him. "After he was caught by Indonesian police, we had to sell our apartment to pay the lawyer's fees," she said.
She and her two daughters, aged two and five, are now living with her parents.
This article was first published on April 11, 2015.
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