Sat, 29 Apr 2000

Councilor to be questioned over attack on council

TANGERANG (JP): Local police are to question Tangerang Council speaker Gian Sugiharsono as the alleged mastermind behind Monday's attack on the council building, which resulted in two people, one a councilor, sustaining injuries.

Tangerang Police chief Lt. Col. Pudji Hartanto told reporters on Friday his office sent a letter on Thursday to West Java Governor H.R. Nuriana asking his permission to question Gian, a council member from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) faction.

"We'll question Gian immediately after we receive permission from the governor," the officer added.

Hundreds of people claiming themselves to be local PDI Perjuangan supporters ran amok during a protest at the building on Monday. They were demanding the resignation of four PDI Perjuangan councilors, who they said had betrayed their party because they had voted for a motion of no confidence against Gian.

Besides damaging windows and other parts of the council building, located on busy Jl. Nyimas Melati, the group also beat councilor and PDI Perjuangan faction chairman Teddy Subrata and local resident Ahmad Sanusi.

Teddy, one of the four councilors the protesters demanded resign, suffered wounds to the right of his forehead and received eight stitches.

Sanusi, who actually took part in the demonstration, was attacked by other participants after he told reporters that he and the other people in the crowd were there under the orders of Gian, who had promised to pay them.

Officer Pudji on Friday did not say whether his men had adequate evidence showing Gian's alleged role in the attack and subsequent vandalism.

"We'll see the results of the questioning first," he said.

Police have so far detained four people, all living near Gian's house in Keroncong village, Jatiuwung.

The four men, identified as Edi, Jayadi, Widodo, and Udin, admitted to the police they had been ordered to stage a protest at the council building for which they would be paid between Rp 5,000 and Rp 50,000 each, Pudji said.

The officer, however, did not name who gave the order.

When contacted separately on Friday, Gian said:

"I won't defend myself on the allegation that I was the mastermind. I simply believe what I have done is correct," he said.

Previously, police questioned two people, Ukay and Yakup, who were accused of torturing councilor Teddy during the attack.

However, both were later released due to insufficient evidence.

Monday's violence was reportedly sparked by Gian's decision to agree to allow 72 hectares of land in Koang Jaya subdistrict to be developed for a project to redirect the water from the Ciliwung and Cisadane rivers without following council guidelines.

Residents are afraid that the project, intended to make Jakarta free from flooding, will cause Tangerang to suffer from flooding.

The decision led the National Mandate Party (PAN), Golkar Party, PDI Perjuangan, United Development Party (PPP) and Madani factions to launch a no confidence vote against Gian.

The PAN, Golkar, and PPP factions even demanded Gian resign from his position as council speaker.

Tangerang residents denounced Monday's vandalism, calling it a a form of an anarchy. They also demanded the police act swiftly and strictly against those found guilty of the crime.

The damaged parts of the council building could still be seen on Friday.

"I don't know when the damage will be repaired because it's Tangerang's General Affairs Office that holds the budget," council secretary Edwan Firman said.

He also said Gian and his three deputy speakers had not been to their office since the incident took place. (41/nvn)