INDONESIA: Soldier of Misfortune

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Two years ago, at the height of Indonesia's abortive rebellion, a black B-26 bomber roared over the port of Amboina, dropped its bombs before it was hit by antiaircraft fire. Out popped the pilot, a 31-year-old Floridian named Allen Lawrence Pope. His parachute fouled in a palm tree and he lay helpless with a broken thigh until Indonesian troops found and arrested him.

An ex-U.S. Air Force lieutenant who won the D.F.C. in Korea, and later became a crack pilot with Claire Chennault's Formosa-based Civil Air Transport, Pope worked himself back into top shape teaching his Indonesian guards judo, and read enough law books in prison to help conduct his own defense (he thought he was fighting international Communism, he said). But U.S. Ambassador Howard Jones publicly regretted that an American "paid soldier of fortune" had become involved in the fighting (a witness quoted Pope as saying the rebels paid him $10.000 a month for his work).

In Djakarta last week, the four-man military court rejected Pope's plea that he be considered a prisoner of war, found him guilty of killing 17 members of Indonesia's'armed forces, and sentenced him to death.

The court's sentence seems unlikely to be carried out. Nobody has been executed for a crime in Indonesia since the country won its independence from the Dutch in 1949, and the court signaled its own expectation of clemency by ordering Pope, the man it had sentenced to death, to pay trial costs.