Mon, 09 Oct 2000

Bombing suspects plan to sue police: Lawyer

JAKARTA (JP): Thirty men accused of the recent bombings in the capital announced on Saturday their plan to file a lawsuit against the Jakarta Police over its decision to name them responsible for the incidents, a lawyer said.

The lawsuit will be filed at the South Jakarta District Court on Tuesday.

Johnson Panjaitan, the deputy chairman for legal aid and advocacy at the Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (PBHI), said the men would ask the judges to annul the police decision to name them suspects in last month's bomb blast at the Jakarta Stock Exchange (JSX) building and the grenade explosion at the Malaysian Embassy in South Jakarta.

Johnson said 20 of PBHI's clients were released on Friday after they were detained from Sept. 23 following the police sweep at Krung Baro Motor auto repair shop in Ciganjur, South Jakarta, on the same day.

"They have no idea why they were put in police custody as they just happened to be in the neighborhood that day," he told The Jakarta Post.

The police found at the shop a timer and carpet fiber, similar to those found at the JSX building.

"The police also wrongfully arrested and named our clients as suspects," Johnson said. He said that at the time of arrest some were eating at a nearby food stall, while others were waiting in the auto shop to have their cars repaired and one person was a scavenger passing the area.

He said they did not know they were named suspects until the next day.

"So we demand that the court nullify the police dossiers because their (clients) testimonies could be used against them," he said after chairing a media conference to hear the statements made by the 16 bombing suspects who were released along with four others on Friday.

The 16 suspects are Ismail Yunus, M. Saleh Daud, Fauzi A. Rachman, Asri Hanafiah, Hasnali, Sarbini, P. Zukri, Azhar, Zakaria, Armia Daud, Fajri Husin, Bachtiar, Heri Adam, M. Yusuf Saleh, Zufri Nurdin and Tarmizi.

The remaining four are Tabrani, Rahman Zainal, M. Rizal and Faizil, who are staying with relatives in Bogor, some 60 kilometers from Jakarta.

Ten other suspects are being detained at city police headquarters. They include the four primary suspects Tengku Ismuhadi and Ibrahim A. Manaf, who allegedly planned the Sept. 13 bombing at the JSX building, and military members Ibrahim Hasan and Irwan, who reportedly assembled and planted the bomb.

The blast destroyed the building's car park and killed at least 10 people and injured dozens of others.

The 20 released suspects said they were repeatedly interrogated at all hours without any assistance from lawyers. They claim to have suffered psychological distress during their 13 days in detention.

They also said the police offered them freedom in return for their willingness to sign a conditional release, postponing their arrest to a later time.

Johnson accused the police of intentionally releasing the 20 men to prevent public criticism of the unlawful arrest procedure.

"PBHI has not asked for the postponement of their arrest, but for their total freedom.

"In my opinion, the release is only a ruse and allows the police the opportunity to arrest them again at anytime," he said, adding that the suspects have to report to the police every Monday.

The National Police declared earlier that the 30 people belonged to a group affiliated with the separatist Free Aceh Movement (GAM). (bby)