Tue, 15 Jan 2002

Bustanil too big to wear detainee's uniform

Rendi A.Witular and Damar Harsanto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Curious about why one of former president Soeharto's closest aides, Bustanil Arifin, has not been seen wearing a dark blue detainee's uniform since he was taken into police custody on Wednesday?

Because he is too big to wear the outfit.

"Police until now could not find the right size uniform for Bustanil, since he has a large-sized body," city police spokesman Sr.Com. Anton Bachrul Alam said.

The simple assurance was given by Anton when asked by The Jakarta Post about the special treatment Bustanil, 73, a suspect in a graft case, seems to be enjoying.

Bustanil was held over the allegation of Rp 10 billion corruption in Bulog (the State Logistic Agency) when he assumed the agency's top post in 1990.

On Monday, he wore a brown safari suit, attire generally associated with middle- to high-level civil servants.

During his interrogation, in fact, Bustanil always wore batik or safari outfits.

An atmosphere worthy of home was seen at the detective unit's waiting room on Saturday, where at least 20 of Bustanil's family members gathered at the 5-by-5-meter room. Some others were also seen sitting at the lobby.

In the room, there was an abundance of food and drink that had been purchased at a major retailer, as seen on the plastic logo.

A duty officer at the entrance of the lobby who witnessed the scene said that several of Bustanil's family members, including his daughters, had spent the night at the room.

Bustanil's family also enjoyed exclusive anonymity, when two guard officers barred reporters from entering the lobby to ask the family members questions.

One radio reporter said bitterly that the special treatment was more lavish than even that afforded Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra, a suspect in murder case.

Tommy was also afforded many of the comforts of home when he slept comfortably in the private office of a police officer in the first three days after his arrest. He wore a detainee's uniform a day later, following an outcry from the media.

Anton denied that the police gave a special treatment to Bustanil, saying that anyone could have used the lobby and the waiting room at the detective's office as long as they wanted. While reporters were free to enter the lobby.

The guards prevented reporters from entering the lobby because Saturday was a holiday, he said.

Meanwhile, Bustanil's wife, R.A. Suhardani, was seen carrying plastic bags bearing tissue paper and other sanitary products towards the detention chamber, although her husband was still being questioned in the detectives' office.

She was followed by her driver, who carried two large plastic bags containing food, tissue papers, a carton of drinks, and biscuits.

Sources said that Bustanil did not sleep in the detention room, but Anton dismissed it.

"He is in his cell, but until now, I haven't checked which cell block he is staying in," he said.

Bustanil was detained as a prime suspect in the Rp 10 billion (US$1 million) graft of the Bulog funds. He was accused of spending the money to buy a 4,003-square-meter land tract on Jl. HR. Rasuna Said, South Jakarta, from Bambang Trihatmodjo, Soeharto's second son.

Police believe the transaction was marked up by Bustanil. The land was then sold and the money was divided among his men, according to the police.

Police officials said Bustanil will be charged with Anticorruption Law No.31/1999, which carries a maximum of 20 years in prison.

Since his detention, Bustanil has received many visitors including many high-ranking officers and former officials, especially those associated with Soeharto's regime.

On Monday, dozens of Bulog employees as well as former minister of justice Ismail Saleh and former minister/cabinet secretary Saadilah Mursyid visited him to express their sympathy for Bustanil. They also asked the police to change the detention status to house arrest.

That request, however, was rejected by the police.

Bustanil was important as a high-ranking officer during the Soeharto regime. He was responsible for Soeharto's social and charity programs.