Tue, 07 Nov 2000

Ex-Golkar boss grilled over July 27 incident

JAKARTA (JP): Golkar's former secretary general Ary Mardjono was questioned on Monday by a joint military-police team over the violent takeover of the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) headquarters on July 27, 1996.

Col. Hendardji, Director of Investigation at military police headquarters said that Ary had been summoned for questioning since the 60-year-old man had been allegedly involved in several meetings which planned the attack prior to the incident.

"We have several witnesses who said that he had attended those meetings," Hendardji told The Jakarta Post when contacted via phone later in the afternoon.

A mob, backed by police and military elements, violently attacked the headquarters on Jl. Diponegoro in Central Jakarta which at that time was occupied by followers of PDI's ousted chairperson Megawati Soekarnoputri, now Vice President and head of the PDI Perjuangan (Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle).

For days, Megawati's followers and supporters flocked to the headquarters prior to the attack to hold free-speech forums, condemning the regime of Soeharto, who was in power at that time.

The violent action, which involved supporters of a PDI splinter group, led by Soerjadi, left five dead -- according to the official record -- with 23 others reportedly still missing.

The attack triggered massive unrest in Central Jakarta.

As reported earlier, several meetings are believed to have been held prior to the incident for a planned takeover of the PDI headquarters.

On July 19, 1996, a meeting was reportedly held at the residence of then president Soeharto on Jl. Cendana in Central Jakarta.

The meeting which was attended by several high-ranking military and police officers, and top government officials was said to be used by Soeharto to give an implicit order to halt the free speech forums at the PDI headquarters.

Another meeting was reportedly held by several cabinet ministers at the time, including then Minister of Information Harmoko, then Minister of Justice Oetojo Oesman, then Minister of Defense and Security Edi Sudradjat, and Yogie.

Soeharto's eldest daughter Siti Hardiyanti Indra Rukmana, better known as Mbak Tutut, who was Golkar's chairwoman at the time also allegedly participated in the meetings.

Separately while contacted by phone Ary told the Post that he did not have any knowledge about the meetings held by several members of ABRI and government officials prior to the incident.

"I told (the investigators during questioning) that I had no knowledge at all about such a meeting," Ary said.

Ary said that he was involved in several meetings held by Golkar prior to the bloody takeover but none of them had been used to talk about a plan to takeover the headquarters.

"We only discussed our legislative candidates because the meetings were held close to the time to select our representatives (for the upcoming general election)," Ary who claimed to be no longer involved in Golkar said.(jaw)