Thu, 10 Mar 2005

Prosecutors close in on Adiguna

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Prosecutors have requested that the Central Jakarta District Court on Wednesday resume the trial of Adiguna Sutowo, a prominent businessman charged with murder, rejecting the defense team's motion to throw the case out of court.

Lead prosecutor in the case, Andi Herman, said that defense objections put forward at the previous hearing, which called for all charges to be dropped because they were deemed to be "obscure" and "misleading", hinged on weak arguments.

"The defense's main objection are contradictory witness statements (in the prosecutor's indictment and police witness affidavits). These are the matters that have to be tried in court," he said.

"Of course, statements from two witnesses do not tell the whole story," said Andi, referring to the defense team's main point of argument that statements from two key witnesses in the police case file did not match those in the prosecution's indictment.

Andi asserted that the prosecution's case did not just rely on the testimony of two witnesses, but also on the testimony of 11 other witnesses, ballistic tests on the firearm allegedly used by Adiguna, as well as autopsy results on the victim, 25-year-old college student Yohanes "Rudy" Brachmans Hairudy Natong.

"Therefore, the charges are precise, clear and complete," said Andi, who is leading a team of six prosecutors involved in the case.

After the trial session, lead defense lawyer Mohamad Assegaf said that the team was prepared to accept whatever decision the judges' made on the matter.

Presiding judge Lilik Mulyadi adjourned the trial until Thursday, when he will issue a decision on whether to continue the trial.

Adiguna, the 46-year-old son of the late Ibnu Sutowo, who was a former director of state oil and gas company Pertamina, is charged with murdering Rudy, a part-time waiter at the Fluid Club in a hotel owned by Adiguna's brother Ponco Sutowo in Central Jakarta over a Rp 150,000 (US$16) bar bill on New Year's day.

According to prosecutors, Adiguna then took out his gun and fired a single fatal shot into Rudy's right temple. Rudy had only been working at the bar for a month.

Adiguna is being charged with two offenses: an act of malicious, but not premeditated, murder, which carries a maximum jail sentence of 15 years, and with the illegal possession of a firearm, which is punishable by a life sentence.

The hearing, the third trial session in the case against Adiguna, was attended by a standing-room only crowd of about 125, including Adiguna's family and friends, who occupied the court room's two front benches.

Outside the courtroom, about 20 women clad in white robes and carrying posters in support of Adiguna, protested peacefully against what they said was undue public pressure against Adiguna because of his status as a member of the Sutowo family.

Assegaf, Adiguna's lead lawyer, denied mobilizing the protesters claiming that he did not know who they were.