Sat, 21 Feb 2004

Bob Hasan freed on parole

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta/Semarang

Timber tycoon Mohammad "Bob" Hasan was released from the notorious prison island Nusakambangan in Central Java on Friday after serving two-thirds of his six-year prison sentence.

Immediately after his release, Hasan flew to Jakarta on Garuda flight 251 from Semarang, Central Java and arrived at the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport at around 3:51 p.m.

Only a few colleagues and former employees were there to receive him at the airport. His wife Pertiwi Hasan and two adopted children are reportedly now living in Australia, their home since the case against Hasan, a close associate of former president Soeharto, came to surface.

The former minister of industry and trade was escorted by several bodyguards waiting at the gate of Terminal 3.

"Congratulations Pak Bob," The Jakarta Post said while shaking his hand as soon as he came out of the gate.

"What congratulations? Happy New Year?" he joked while smiling.

He said he was released after serving two-thirds of his sentence and receiving a sentence remission from the government "for good conduct".

Asked whether he would return to business, Hasan said: "No, I will not because the business was what led me to prison".

"In the future, I will just be active in preventing the young generation from taking drugs and getting involved in brawls. That's all," he said, before getting into a green jeep to head for his home on Jl. Adityawarman in South Jakarta.

Clad in dark brown pants and a wine-colored shirt, Hasan was greeted by, among others, around 30 orphans from Ikrar Qurani orphanage.

"I am tired but happy (with the release)," Hasan told journalists at his house.

Asked if he would visit Soeharto, he said: "Of course, he is an elderly (wise) man".

Several officials of the Indonesian Amateur Athletic Association (PASI) who greeted Hasan at his residence said that they would nominate him as chairman of the organization during its congress on Feb. 25.

"We expect him to spend his time with us, leading the organization again," PASI public relations officer Chaidir said.

Hasan, a former chairman of the Indonesian Forest Concessionaires Association, was sentenced to two years in prison by the Central Jakarta District Court after he was found guilty of misusing US$75 million in funds belonging to the Ministry of Forestry. He was also ordered to pay a Rp 15 million fine and return Rp 14.1 billion to the state.

He appealed the verdict with the Jakarta High Court, and as a result was sentenced to six years in prison and had to pay compensation of some US$243.7 million. The sentence was upheld by the Supreme Court.

Late in March 2001, the late Baharuddin Lopa, who at the time was former minister of justice and human rights, sent him to Nusakambangan penitentiary "to deter other corruptors".

According to Riyono, a security guard at Nusakambangan, Hasan deserved the release as he had served two-thirds of his term and, indeed, "our record showed his good behavior while in prison".

"He was supposed to complete his prison term in 2005, but he was given several remissions that the government grants to inmates every Idul Fitri and Independence Day on Aug. 17," Riyono told the Post.