Indonesia provides assistance to cruise ship rape suspect

File photo of a cruise ship

INDONESIA - The Indonesian government has provided legal assistance to an Indonesian citizen accused of raping a passenger aboard a cruise ship sailing in international waters off Honduras, a minister has said.

Foreign Minister Marty Natalegawa told journalists at the Presidential Palace in Jakarta on Wednesday that the Indonesian Embassy in Washington DC was currently assisting the Indonesian citizen.

"Our approach is always same in which we always make sure that every Indonesia citizen facing a legal problem abroad has his or her rights fully respected," said Marty after accompanying President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono in receiving King Abdullah II of Jordan.

The minister said that although the alleged crime occurred overseas, it did not mean that the government would ignore it.

"It's a legal matter so we are providing legal assistance," said Marty as quoted by Antara news agency.

"Despite the legal assistance provided by the embassy in Washington, this is a legal matter so whoever they are, and wherever the cases may be, they must be responsible for what they have done," he went on.

An Indonesian citizen working as a room service attendant on a cruise ship was reported to have raped a female passenger on Feb 14.

The case was revealed in a document submitted by the Federal Bureau of Investigation (FBI) to a federal court in Miami, the US. According to the document, the suspect, identified only as KP, 28, tried to throw the victim overboard to cover up his crime. The 31-year-old victim fought back and managed to escape her attacker.

The incident occurred aboard the MS Nieuw Amsterdam owned by the Holland America Line. The cruise departed for the Caribbean from Port Everglades in Fort Lauderdale on Feb.9. The document identified the suspect as an Indonesian citizen who worked as a room service attendant.

KP was arrested when the ship returned to Port Everglades on Sunday and will be charged with attempted murder and rape. "To our knowledge, no incident like this has occurred in our company's 140-year history," said Stein Kruse, the Holland America Line director, in a written statement.