Tue, 06 Mar 2001

AGO to 'invite' MPs, not 'question' them: Marzuki

JAKARTA (JP): Attorney General Marzuki Darusman denied on Monday that his office would question several members of the House of Representatives' now-dissolved special committee on the Bulog scandal, saying he would invite them to ask to clarify the House's report on the scam.

"It's not really a questioning...the press made it so. We want to invite the legislators to give further clarification and to give them a chance to strengthen their statements in the report," he told journalists on Monday.

He said that the reaction of legislators who refused to come to his office in connection with the investigation into the financial scandal allegedly linked to President Abdurrahman Wahid was too early since "formal invitations" had not yet been issued.

Marzuki said that his office is now taking testimonies from the witnesses in the report and will later invite several of the 50 members of the House' special committee to give their view on the case.

The House had earlier argued that Marzuki had no right to question the members of the special committee because the inquiry was done on behalf of the House and it was therefore the legislative body as an institution which ruled that the President was implicated in the scams, thereby entrusting the Attorney General's Office to merely study the report.

The special committee's inquiry alleged that the President was involved in the fraudulent withdrawal of Rp 35 billion (US$3.6 million) belonging to the employee foundation of the State Logistics Agency (Bulog) and of US$2 million in humanitarian aid he accepted from the Sultan of Brunei.

The inquiry result provided the House with a basis to censure President Abdurrahman and to recommend that a legal process follow its report. The cases are currently in the hands of the Attorney General's Office and the National Police.

Marzuki said that at the time the House handed the case to the two institutions, he had appealed to the legislators for readiness to be invited to his office at any time regarding the follow-up of the cases.

President Abdurrahman provided the permit for the Attorney General to summon the legislators.

Marzuki stated that he had contacted Bachtiar Chamsjah, the leader of the disbanded special committee, and that both had agreed to further discuss his office's questioning plans.

"I've explained that such clarifications from the special committee members are necessary, but they had reacted too fast. Bachtiar said that personally he is willing to help our work in probing the scandals," he said. (bby)