Thu, 28 Aug 2003

Captured bankrobber linked with terrorist

Suherdjoko, The Jakarta Post, Semarang

A suspected big-time criminal, who was on the most-wanted list in Java for his alleged role in a string of bloody bank robberies in at least 16 cities across the island, was finally captured, Central Java Police chief Insp. Gen. Didi Widayadi said on Wednesday.

The loot from the robberies were said to have been used to finance a series of terrorist attacks in the country.

Didi said Yanto, 23, locally known as Mr. X, was possibly assisted by at least 38 gang members during his crime spree. He was arrested last Friday in Jakarta.

Didi called Yanto, who is from Surabaya, East Java, a big-time criminal who he said had robbed at least 39 bank customers.

"He is the financier for many robberies (in Java). He is an ex-convict who had been released from prisons in Kalisosok, Surabaya, Lowok Waru in Malang (East Java) and Cipinang in Jakarta," he said.

Accompanied by chief of the Central Java police detectives Sr. Comr. Rusbagyo Ishak, Didi said the police were investigating the possible links between the robberies with the bombing incidents across Indonesia following allegations that his ill-gotten gains were used to support local terrorists.

The Central Java police chief said at least three people were killed and 12 others suffered gunshot wounds in the 39 robberies allegedly masterminded by Yanto.

Didi said at least 14 of Yanto's 38-member group had been arrested and that three of them were shot dead by police.

He said the robbers' group led by Yanto worked like a professional business. "One serves as the financier, some are responsible for procuring transport facilities and guns and others have to identify and draw the maps of the targets."

The group was known to be "sadistic" in its methods. It shot victims first and immediately seized the money they had just taken from banks.

The latest case, which police blamed on Yanto's group, took place on Aug. 4 in Semarang, Central Java. The robbers chased their victim into his office, shot him in the chest and made off with the Rp 150 million (US$17,857) that he had just withdrawn from Permata Bank.

Earlier in July, the group was also blamed for another bloody robbery of Rp 669 million belonging to employees of state-owned tap water company PDAM in Surakarta, Central Java. The case claimed the life of a security guard at the company.