Wed, 29 Nov 2000

Beddu Amang detained over Bulog land scandal

JAKARTA (JP): The state prosecutors placed former chief of the State Logistics Agency (Bulog) Beddu Amang in the detention center at the Attorney General Office's for 20 days, pending his trial on charges of corruption in a land exchange deal.

The Jakarta Prosecutor's Office assistant for special crimes, Andi Syarifuddin, said on Tuesday that the detention was made to expedite legal proceedings of the case.

"The detention, which is effective until Dec. 17, is meant to prevent the suspect from fleeing, destroying evidence or committing similar crimes," he said at his office after receiving the dossier, evidence and suspect from general prosecutor Fachmi.

Beddu's lawyer Jhon Wallerie expressed regret over the detention, saying he found no reason for his client to escape or skip the trial.

"I'm afraid the detention was largely based on political interests as Tommy was involved in the case," he said, referring to Hutomo Mandala Putra, the youngest son of former president Soeharto who was convicted in the scam.

Beddu was indicted last year for his alleged involvement in the 1995 land exchange deal between Bulog and wholesale firm PT Goro Batara Sakti, which caused Rp 76.7 billion in state losses.

The same case resulted in Soeharto's favorite son Tommy and businessman Ricardo Gelael, the commissioner and the executive of PT Goro respectively, being sentenced to 18 months in prison by the Supreme Court.

Tommy is at large and was declared a fugitive on Nov. 3, a day after President Abdurrahman Wahid refused to grant him a pardon. Ricardo served his sentence at Cipinang Penitentiary.

Beddu's indictment was dropped on grounds that the prosecutors failed to obtain the presidential approval required to question a state official. Beddu was then a member of the People's Consultative Assembly.

Prosecutors at the time said that Beddu, a day after his appointment as Bulog chief in 1995, signed a memorandum of understanding with private firm PT Sekar Artha Sentosa, of which he is also president, to exchange a Bulog plot and warehouses in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta, with a 150-hectare swampy plot in Marunda, North Jakarta.

Beddu had justified the transaction on the grounds that the warehouse complex, which is located near the Kelapa Gading housing complex, was no longer feasible.

However, Beddu allegedly sent a letter to then finance minister Mari'e Muhammad stating that then president Soeharto personally requested the land swap.

Commenting on his detention, Beddu said he would comply with the law, but insisted on his innocence.

"I'm not guilty, let the trial prove it. The president (at the time) approved and ordered the deal, so what else could I do? I was just asked to implement the deal," Beddu said before leaving the Jakarta Prosecutor's Office accompanied by dozens of bodyguards.(bby)