Tue, 14 May 2002

Five named suspects in Bandung hotel fire

Yuli Tri Suwarni, The Jakarta Post, Bandung

Police have named five suspects in connection to a hotel fire here last week that claimed four lives, including two foreign nationals.

Budiman Somali, the hotel director-cum-owner, and hotel maintenance man Adhiansyah are the main suspects, West Bandung Police chief Adj. Sr. Com. Zaenul Arifin said.

Three of the suspects have been in detention since Sunday while the two others were detained on Monday, he said.

The owner of hotel Perdana Wisata will be charged under Article 18 of the Criminal Code because of the absence of fire safety equipment in the hotel. Under the law, he could face a maximum punishment of four years in prison if found guilty.

Police have questioned 15 witnesses, mostly hotel employees.

The fire broke out in the wee house of May 6 on the second story of the hotel where the Euro discotheque was located. The hotel employees said the hotel manager and maintenance department had ignored repeated warnings about frequent short circuits in the discotheque.

Meanwhile, Hermawan, chairman of West Java branch of the Indonesian Hotel and Restaurant Association (PHRI), said that the hotel owner and regional administration were responsible for the fire since no fire safety inspections of hotels in Bandung had ever been conducted.

Erwin Anwar, head of Bandung Tourism Division, said his office was too short of staff to oversee hundreds of hotels in Bandung.

Eighteen of the 43 star-rated hotels in Bandung do not have tourism business licenses, he said.

"This incident has prompted us to improve our management. Otherwise, people will feel insecure when staying at hotels in Bandung," he said.