Wed, 29 Nov 2000

Ex-presidential guard on trial

YOGYAKARTA: Former member of the presidential guard Soekardjo Wilardjito, 73, went on trial on Tuesday on charges of sparking a public furor over the validity of the 1966 presidential order known as Supersemar, which has been declared a state document.

Prosecutor Anton Sutedjo said in his indictment read to the Yogyakarta District Court that Soekardjo had given inaccurate testimony about Supersemar and that this had given rise to public disquiet.

Anton said Soekardjo had violated articles 14 and 15 of Law No. 1/1946, a crime which carries a maximum penalty of 10-years imprisonment.

Soekardjo, who served during the last years in office of the country's first president Sukarno, publicly testified in August 1998 that Sukarno was under pressure when he signed the Supersemar, which authorized then Army Strategic Reserves Command (Kostrad) chief Maj. Gen. Soeharto to crush the Indonesian Communist Party (PKI) and assume power.

His testimony was given as part of an attempt by Soekardjo to seek rehabilitation after serving an 11-year jail term for his alleged involvement in the PKI's alleged coup attempt. Soekardjo has insisted that he is innocent.

Former armed forces chief Gen. (ret.) M. Jusuf, one of three military officers who received the Supersemar from Sukarno, has rejected Soekardjo's version of events.

The hearing will resume next week. (44)