Fri, 12 May 2000

Expert testimonies in Lt. Agus trial delayed

JAKARTA (JP): The Jakarta Military Court postponed on Thursday the testimonies of legal experts Loebby Loqman and Andi Hamzah in the trial of Army Second Lt. Agus Isrok after the defendant's lawyers failed to present original letters attesting to the witnesses' expertise.

"The hearing is adjourned until tomorrow (Friday) as the lawyers of the defendant have failed to comply with the military court's procedures," said presiding judge Col. Sarman Mulyana in a hearing at the military court in Pondok Kopi, East Jakarta.

Scores of spectators attended the 45-minute hearing, which started at 10:30 a.m.

The defendant was accompanied by his lawyers Col. A.B. Setiawan, Lt. Col. A. Affandi and Capt. N. Sirait, among others. The military prosecutors were Maj. Bambang Aribowo and Maj. P. Situmorang.

Loebby and Andi were about to testify on behalf of drug defendant Agus Isrok, a member of the Army's Special Force (Kopassus), who was arrested for alleged drug possession at a hotel last August.

Loebby, who was scheduled to testify before Andi, submitted a photocopy of a letter of verification from the University of Indonesia's School of Law, signed by its dean Abdul Basri, to the court.

Loebby, a law professor at the university, was about to testify after the court heard witness Ratmoko Sani Hidayat, a neighbor of Agus in the Kopassus housing complex on Jl. Radar in Cijantung, East Jakarta.

Loebby presented the letter of verification to the presiding judge, but prosecutor Situmorang objected to the professor being called as a expert witness, saying the letter was not an original.

Judge Sarman then asked the defendant's lawyers about the whereabouts of the original letter.

Col. A.B. Setiawan said it had been left at the Kopassus headquarters in Cijantung.

"The original letter is at the force's office. But we should not doubt the professor's expertise, since he has a good reputation as a criminal law expert," he told the hearing.

But Judge Sarman insisted on seeing the original letter.

"The court doubts the validity of the copy of the letter. The lawyers must comply with the court's procedures and bring the original letter to the next hearing," Sarman said.

A similar ruling was made concerning Andi after Col. Setiawan hinted that Andi's original letter of verification was also still at the force's office.

Upon hearing the judge's statement, some spectators immediately walked out of the courtroom in disgust.

Loebby regretted the judges' decision, saying they only concentrated on the court's formal procedures rather than the truth.

"I have brought a copy of the letter. And I think that's enough.

"If they don't believe my testimony, they can just declare it baseless. They didn't have to postpone my testimony," he said after the hearing.

It is the second time judges have called into question Loebby's expertise after a similar incident occurred at the trial of Agus' accomplice Donny Hendrian at the West Jakarta District Court on Feb. 20.

The civilian court sentenced Donny to nine years and six months in jail.

City police arrested Agus and Donny in a room at a hotel in West Jakarta in a morning drug raid last August. The police seized from the room 1.6 kilograms of shabu-shabu (crystal methamphetamine), 6,218 ecstasy pills, 27.9 grams of heroin and 25 sachets of Valium pills. (asa)