Tue, 18 Sep 2001

22 Army officers and chiefs dismissed over Madiun attack

MALANG, East Java (JP): The Army's Strategic Reserves Command (Kostrad) chief Lt. Gen. Ryamizard Ryacudu has discharged chief of Kostrad's Airborne Infantry Battalion 501 Maj. Komistin Hadirin and his deputy Maj. Nurcholid, as well as 20 members of the battalion, over a deadly attack on Madiun Police station and several other police stations at midnight on Saturday.

Two students were shot dead in the incident, while scores of policemen and Army members were injured.

"If another such incident ever happens again, I will not show any mercy to those involved. I'll discharge every member of a battalion if necessary," Ryamizard was quoted by Antara as saying after presiding over Monday's roll call of Artillery Regiment I here.

Meanwhile, the parents of the dead students, Hendrik, 17, and M. Adi Nugroho, 18, said they would file suit against the police and the Army for the deaths of their sons.

"Why did they shoot my son?" said Waluyo, the father of Adi, adding that he would take the case to the National Commission on Human Rights should the police and military fail to respond to his lawsuit.

In Surabaya, the spokesman for the East Java Brawijaya Military Command, Lt. Col. Djoko Agus, said on Monday the 20 infantry battalion members were in the custody of the Madiun military police. "They are waiting for legal processing for the offense," he said. "We are investigating the case very seriously."

Fierce attacks by members of Infantry Battalion 501 on Madiun Police station and three substations followed a heated argument between two military policemen of the infantry battalion with Navy Second Lt. A.M. Jeremy, Army Second Lt. Azis and Police Second Lt. Tatit Muji Widodo. The three men were out of uniform.

The three lieutenants were in a car queued up to buy gasoline at a gas station near the town square. They became upset when the two military policemen who were riding a motorcycle ignored all the vehicles lined up for gas and cut in front of their car.

The three officers and the two military policemen began to argue, which escalated when a large number of the infantry battalion members arrived at the scene and helped the military policemen.

Tatit fired a warning shot, which did not stop the fighting. One of the military policemen tried to grab Tatit's gun and was shot in the leg.

The brawl led to an attack by about 300 members of the infantry battalion on Madiun Police station and three other substations in the town. One traffic police post in the precinct was destroyed.

Other buildings were also attacked and damaged, including the police hospital. Several police vehicles were also destroyed. Many police officers were seriously injured in the attack.

Another attack took place an hour later when more than 50 Army members returned to the police precinct and destroyed other buildings. Scores of civilians were reportedly following the Army in the attack.

Ryamizard, however, strongly denied an allegation that some Army members were equipped with guns during the attack, and that the Army members were helped by civilians.

The police earlier claimed that the civilians were helping the Army members, but were just watching events unfold.

National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Didi Widayadi said in Jakarta on Monday that National Police chief Gen. Surojo Bimantoro had instructed all parties in the police force to remain calm in their reaction to events in Madiun and to refrain from entering into "institutional" feuds.

Following the incident, a joint investigative team of police and military personnel was deployed to probe the case.

Also in Jakarta, a member of House of Representatives (DPR) Commission I, Permadi, said the clash indicated that discipline among police and Army officers was still very poor. "Army and police leaders have failed to build discipline among their members." (emf/nur/sur)