Indonesian Military (TNI) chief Gen. Moeldoko said on Thursday that he had ordered a probe into whether some of the passengers on a Hercules C-130 that crashed in Medan, North Sumatra, on Tuesday, were civilians with no connection to military personnel being transported on the plane.
Moeldoko gave the order in response to allegations that civilians had paid cash to fly on the military’ transport plane.
We will dig deeper and we will let the public know if there were passengers who were not TNI members or family members on the doomed Hercules, he said on Thursday, adding that he would take action if evidence was found that there were civilian passengers on the plane.
Moeldoko said the TNI allowed military personnel and members of their families to fly on military aircraft if they could not afford to buy tickets on commercial flights.
According to Moeldoko, TNI headquarters has dispatched a team to look into procedures and mechanisms in the operation of the military transport plane and could release a preliminary report on the investigation within the next two weeks.
People have told local media outlets that family members of victims of the crash had paid cash to board the plane, contradicting claims by TNI officers that the plane was not used for commercial purposes.
One person who lost two of her family members in the crash, Tetdi Pakpahan, claimed she had paid Rp 800,000 (US$59.85) for two seats on the plane.
He took the flight, not because [he] had no money. He is a businessman. But because (he wanted to] save time and his soldier friend recommended it. It’s common practice, she said as quoted by kompas.com.
Another person, police officer Brig. S. Sihombing whose two nieces — Ester Yosephine Sihombing and Yunita Sihombing died in the crash, said people were interested in flying on military planes because the prices were lower than those of commercial-airlines.
if they took a commercial flight, it would cost them Rp 1 million per person, which is expensive. That’s why they took that flight, he said.
Local media reports have alleged that at least 29 civilians who were not family members of TNI personnel were on the plane. Air Force chief of staff Marshall Agus Supriatna has denied that overcapacity was the cause of the crash as he claimed that a C-130 could carry passengers and cargo weighing up to 12.5 tons.
He has also denied that Air Force planes were used for commercial purposes and maintained that no civilians were allowed on board except for family members of TNI personnel. Agus has also said that the Hercules may have had experienced technical problems that have yet to be determined. A number of Hercules aircraft would be temporarily grounded for evaluation, Moeldoko said.
Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Tedjo Edhv Purdijatno said the TNI would conduct an audit on military equipment procurement and its management in response to President Joko (Jokowi) Widodo’s order on Wednesday. Jokowi ordered the reorganization of management and procurement of military equipment as well the disposing of obsolete weapons and equipment.
Tedjo said the government was considering not procuring used aircraft. That is one example, just like the President has said. Existing obsolete planes might be used only for training purposes if they are still in good condition.
Singaporean Prime Minister Lee Hsien Loong wrote to Jokowi to express his condolences over the crash. I was saddened to hear of the tragic crash of the military plane in Medan (…) I extend our deepest condolences and sympathies to the families who lost their loved ones in this tragedy, Lee said. (Sumber: HU The Jakarta Post)