Thu, 06 Mar 2003

Air Force to discharge members involved in an attack

Tertiani ZB Simanjuntak, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

An Air Force official said Wednesday that any Air Force member would be dismissed and tried by a military court for involvement in the armed attack on the Makassar police station in East Jakarta which left one policeman dead late Tuesday.

Air Force operational commander at Halim Perdana Kusumah airbase, Rear Marshall Herman Prayitno, said a joint investigation between the Air Force's military police and Jakarta Police would be completed in the next two days.

"In the case, which was committed by Air Force persons, firm action will be taken against those involved, including their dismissal. If they committed a crime, the case will be handed to military prosecutors," he told reporters.

An armed mob attacked the station about 11:30 p.m. A policeman on duty, First Pvt. Brig. Salmon Panjaitan was stabbed to death during the clash. The station was also damaged.

Witnesses said the attack followed the confiscation of a motorcycle belonging to a motorcycle taxi driver. The taxi driver complained to his relative, an Air Force member assigned to the Halim Perdana Kusumah airbase, after seeing a policeman driving the motorcycle outside the police post.

None of the attackers were detained, while Herman and Jakarta police chief Insp. Gen. Makbul Padmanegara declined to reveal the motive and the suspects in the attack.

Both refuted suggestions that the empowerment of the police force as part of reform campaign starting in 2001 had resulted in friction between the two forces.

A green poncho was found at the scene of the attack but Makbul said it could not be used to identify the attackers. "We still don't know whether the attackers were civilians or military persons."

Makbul said the police had also questioned stall owners near the scene as witnesses.

"If it was my personnel's fault, then I will take firm action against them," he said.