Thu, 23 Nov 2000

City council takes cautious stance on Governor Sutiyoso

JAKARTA (JP): While the media has widely announced that Governor Sutiyoso is one of the suspects in the July 27, 1996 violent takeover of the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) headquarters, the City Council still takes a cautious stance on the matter.

Council Speaker Edy Waluyo said on Wednesday the fate of Sutiyoso would depend on the Court that will try the case.

"We will look for official confirmation from the Jakarta Prosecutor's Office before we can decide on the possibility of suspending Sutiyoso for the sake of the prosecution.

"The city council will take its position after receiving formal notification from the Jakarta Prosecutor's Office. We will then decide whether we need to suspend him for the duration of the investigation or not," Edy told journalists.

He said the councillors would first study the case to determine whether Sutiyoso's status as a suspect might have an impact on his position or not.

Sutiyoso, who was the Jakarta Military Commander when the 1996 tragedy occurred, along with former Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Hamami Nata, had been named as a suspect in the tragedy.

The party headquarters takeover triggered mass unrest in Central Jakarta, leaving at least five people killed and 23 others reported still missing.

Noted lawyer Todung Mulya Lubis said the statements in the press announcing Sutiyoso as a suspect should provide moral justification for the Governor to voluntarily quit his office and concentrate on dealing with the case.

"The question is when will he announce his resignation? Will it be now or later when he has to face trial in court as it will definitely hamper his everyday duties as governor?" Todung told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

He said that there was no legal basis for Sutiyoso to step down until the court declared him guilty.

"It's simply a moral responsibility, but it would be better if he did voluntarily resign to aid the legal process and concentrate on the case," Todung said.


Meanwhile, City administration spokesman Muhayat said the governor had yet to receive any formal notification about his status as a suspect in the case and the investigation team had yet to summon him.

"The governor will not make any comment before he receives formal notification.

"And we will not say whether he is going to temporarily leave his office or not until we see the official statement," Muhayat said on Wednesday.

Separately, former minister of education and culture Wardiman Djojonegoro, who was questioned on Wednesday over his presence at a ministerial meeting which was held two days before the bloody incident, said he could not recall what had happened during the meeting.

"It happened four years ago, I don't really remember much about it anymore," Wardiman told reporters at the National Police headquarters after being questioned by a joint military/police investigation team.

As reported earlier, the July 24, 1996 meeting concluded that the ongoing free speech forum at the party headquarters should be stopped since it had disturbed public order.

Several former government officials, military, and police officers who attended the meeting have also been questioned by the joint team. (dja/jaw)