No agreement yet to release Susi Air Pilot held hostage

Head of the Cartenz 2024 Peace Operation Public Relations Task Force, AKBP Bayu Suseno. - Jubi/Alexander Loen

Jayapura, Jubi – As of now, there has been no agreement reached for the release of Phillip Mark Mehrtens, the Susi Air pilot from New Zealand who has been held captive by the West Papua National Liberation Army (TPNPB) since early last year, spokesperson for the Cartenz Peace Operation Adj. Sr. Comr. Bayu Suseno said on Wednesday (31/1/2024).

The TPNPB led by Egianus Kogoya seized Phillip Mark Mehrtens after the pilot landed his plane at the Paro Airport in Nduga Regency, Papua Mountains Province, on February 7, 2023. Egianus Kogoya’s group also set fire to Mehrtens’ aircraft.

Suseno stated that efforts to free Phillip Mark Mehrtens are still ongoing through negotiations.

“Currently, the one leading the negotiation with Egianus Kogoya is the Acting Regent of Nduga, Edison Gwijangge. However, there has been no agreement reached regarding the pilot’s release up to this day,” Suseno said.

According to Suseno, Edison Gwijangge leads the negotiation efforts because the Acting Regent of Nduga has a familial relationship with Egianus Kogoya. This closeness is expected to facilitate the negotiation process for Mehrtens’ release.

“The Cartenz Peace Operation Task Force emphasizes a soft approach in their efforts because we prioritize the safety of the pilot himself,” he added.

Regarding the TPNPB statement allowing the wife of the Susi Air pilot to meet her captive husband, Suseno mentioned that it was merely a hoax. “That is old propaganda from before Christmas 2023,” he said. (*)

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