Fri, 16 Jun 2000

Gus Dur cleared of all suspicions

JAKARTA (JP): Police declared on Wednesday President Abdurrahman Wahid free of all charges involving the Rp 35 billion scandal at the State Logistics Agency (Bulog), but said that they still needed to question him to help clarify the matter.

"Our investigation shows that up until now, our President is clean," Jakarta Police chief of detectives Col. Alex Bambang Riatmodjo said at a media conference.

"Based on input from the investigative team, we need to summon Gus Dur as a witness," Alex said, referring to the President by his nickname.

"And the questioning could be performed at the Jakarta Police Headquarters or anywhere the president chose."

The President is currently on a lengthy foreign tour and will not return until next week.

The Bulog scandal revolves around the disbursement of Rp 35 billion from Yanatera, a Bulog employees foundation, to Suwondo, a masseur and spiritual advisor to the President.

Bulog deputy chairman Sapuan, who ordered the disbursement of the fund in January, claims he acted after a meeting in which the President requested Bulog's participation in a humanitarian program in Aceh. The money was transferred to Suwondo in the belief that the latter was acting on the President's behalf.

Sapuan has since lost his Bulog job and is now under police investigation, while Suwondo is still at large, possibly abroad.

Alex urged members of the public to notify the police if they had any information concerning Suwondo's whereabouts.

"I will personally reward Rp 2 million to anyone who can lead us to Suwondo," he said.

The investigation also found that none of the money actually went to the Aceh humanitarian program. Instead it reportedly ended up in the accounts of close associates of Suwondo.

Some rumors also suggest that some members of the President's inner circle, including Alwi Shihab and Bondan Gunawan, had benefited from the Bulog money, but the rumors have been firmly denied by them.

Suwondo's wife, Teti Sunarti, who professed not to know her husband's whereabouts, has since returned Rp 10 billion in cash to the police. Another Rp 5 billion in cash was returned by Siti Farika, a Central Java-based businesswoman who is known to be close to the President. Suko Sudarso, an executive of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, has returned the title to a property in West Java which he said was purchased by Suwondo for Rp 15 billion.

Police said another Rp 5 billion went to Leo Purnomo, allegedly of Air Wagon (AWAIR) air freight company, who is also at large. (06)