Bogus seminar organizer charged with swindling
JAKARTA (JP): Vocational high school teacher Zawawi Suat is being tried at the Central Jakarta District Court for allegedly swindling the participants of a seminar he had organized.
The court ran the second hearing of the case on Thursday, hearing testimonies from the witnesses: Mulyadi, a staffer at the state-owned insurance company PT Jamsostek and Nur Hidayat Umatjina, a staffer at an export-import company located in North Jakarta. Both witnesses participated in the seminar.
At last week's indictment, prosecutor Y. Eddy charged that the defendant held the seminar with the assistance of M. Toha, Kalsum, Firdaus, Sukarto, Muchsin, Taufik and Astuti.
The seminar, billed as a "One-day National Dialog on Customs", was held at the Palikrama Hall in the Central Jakarta Pawnshop on Oct. 29 last year.
The indictment stated that the defendant, who was chairman of the seminar's organizing committee, issued 600 invitations to members of the public for Rp 500,000 (US$71) each.
It said participants could obtain tickets through agencies, by bank transfer or on the day the seminar was held.
The organizing committee printed two different kinds of invitations.
The first invited people to attend a seminar which would feature the director general of customs at the finance ministry, Hermana Agung, as its keynote speaker.
Others speakers on the list were customs experts Soetjipto, Daryono, Arief, Ali Purwito; director of Jakarta airports management company PT Angkasa Pura II Miskul Firdaus; and the director of Jakarta seaports operator PT Pelindo II, Herman Prayitno.
The second invitation said that former minister of trade and industry Rahardi Ramelan would be the keynote speaker. Other listed speakers were Djoko Mulyono, the director general of foreign trade at the finance ministry, and Daryono, Miskul Firdaus, Ali Purwito and Arief.
In the hearing, presided over by Judge Poerwanto, Nur Hidayat Umatjina said he went to the seminar as a representative of his company in order to learn more about customs and export-import affairs.
"We enthusiastically attended the seminar as the listed speakers were qualified people," he told the hearing. He said his company had sent two employees to the seminar. However, none of the listed speakers appeared at the seminar.
The indictment stated they were substituted by other, less well-known speakers.
The indictment hinted that the committee had contacted the speakers, but they had replied they could not address the seminar. However, it continued, the committee insisted on selling the tickets without informing the public and the participants about the speakers' absence.
It said the committee had succeeded in selling 400 tickets, earning a total revenue of Rp 200 million.
The indictment also stated that the seminar, which had yet to obtain a permit from the police, did not provide the participants with seminar kits.
"Many participants could not even get seats," it said, adding that the committee only provided 300.
The 41-year-old defendant said he had informed the participants over the absence of the speakers just before the seminar started.
"They apparently accepted my explanation. But after the first session, some participants who were late to the hall protested to the committee because they could not get seats," he said after the hearing.
He said it sparked anger from other participants, who then reported him to the police.
"Other committee members disappeared just after the quarreling occurred at the seminar," he added.
The prosecutor said the defendant had violated article 378 of the Criminal Code on swindling, which carries a maximum sentence of four years in jail.
Judge Poerwanto adjourned the hearing until next week to hear testimonies from other witnesses. (asa)