Mon, 30 Oct 2000

Former BIA chief confirms he was declared a suspect

JAKARTA (JP): The former chief of the Indonesian Armed Forces (ABRI) Intelligence Body, Maj. Gen. Zacky Anwar Makarim, confirmed on Sunday he has been declared a suspect in the July 27, 1996, attack on the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) headquarters in Jakarta.

"Yes, I have been questioned as a suspect in the July 27, 1996, tragedy," he said after attending the ceremony marking the establishment of HELO, a law firm operated by former Jakarta Military commander Lt. Gen. (ret) A.M. Hendropriyono.

Zacky maintained his innocence in the 1996 incident. "I cannot be prosecuted because I was performing an institutional duty at ABRI headquarters. I have evidence that I was executing the policy of the government," he said. The Indonesian Military (TNI) was formerly known as the Indonesian Armed Forces.

Zacky declined to comment further, saying he had handed over his legal defense to lawyer Adnan Buyung Nasution.

A joint National Military Police/National Police investigation has also named former Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Hamami Nata a suspect in the incident, as well as four active middle-ranking military and police personnel.

The case revolves around an attack on PDI headquarters on Jl. Diponegoro in Central Jakarta by a group of supporters of Soerjadi, who was the head of a splinter faction of the party. Backed by elements of ABRI, the group raided and took over the party headquarters from loyalists of ousted PDI leader Megawati Soekarnoputri, who is currently the country's Vice President.

The raid triggered unrest in Central Jakarta which left at least five people dead. Twenty-three people who disappeared during the unrest are still missing.

Law Office

To defend police and military personnel facing prosecution for human rights violations, Hendropriyono, who is also the former secretary of development supervision and operations, opened on Sunday Hendropriyono Law Office (HELO).

"If soldiers do not understand their rights and responsibilities, they may quiver while performing their duties. They need legal assistance.

"That's what HELO is for," Hendropriyono, a 1967 graduate of the National Military Academy, said.

Besides giving legal assistance to the soldiers and police officers, HELO was established to help promote human rights and the code of conduct in war among soldiers, he said.

Megawati, who officially opened the law firm, said HELO should provide legal protection to soldiers and help assure them they will not be made scapegoats in cases of human rights violations.

Megawati cited her experience in dealing with the legal process in connection with the July 1996 incident.

"I chose to fight in court, although I realized that I would not be a winner and it might ruin my image.

"I did this because I wanted to provide a political education to the people, and show them that our country is based on the supremacy of the law," she said.

Also present at the ceremony were former vice president Try Sutrisno, Minister of Communications Lt. Gen. (ret) Agum Gumelar and the commander of the Army's Special Force, Maj. Gen. Amirul Isnaini.

The law firm has recruited a number of high-profile personalities. They include an expert on the laws of war, KGPH Haryomataram, aerospace legal expert and chairman of the Indonesian Arbitrage Body Priyatna Abdulrasyid, journalist Karni Ilyas, criminologist Mulyana W. Kusumah, former Supreme Court justice Djohansyah and National Commission on Human Rights deputy chairman Bambang W. Soeharto. (02)