Sat, 16 Sep 2000

Gus Dur orders arrest of Tommy

JAKARTA (JP): President Abdurrahman Wahid said on Friday he had ordered the arrest of former president Soeharto's youngest son Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra.

The reasons for the order were not explained by the President. However, Abdurrahman hinted it may be in connection with Wednesday's bombing at the Jakarta Stock Exchange building.

"I (issued) an order during the Cabinet meeting yesterday (Thursday) to arrest Tommy Soeharto," Abdurrahman said at Al- Musyawarah Mosque in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta, following Friday prayers.

While he hinted at it, the President did not explicitly state his order for the arrest of Tommy Soeharto was related to the powerful blast at the Jakarta Stock Exchange building which left at least 10 people dead and 27 injured.

The President revealed his order when responding to a question following Friday prayers on whether a spate of bomb attacks in the country was related to the corruption trial of Soeharto.

The blast on Wednesday took place on the eve of the second session of Soeharto's trial.

On July 4, one hour after Tommy was last questioned in connection with his father's case, a bomb exploded in a building at the Attorney General's Office. No one was injured in that incident.

A second, more powerful bomb was defused a day later, and police at the time questioned Tommy's bodyguards.

Abdurrahman also said he had issued an order to arrest Habib Ali Baagil. The President did not explain, however, who Habib Ali was or why he had ordered his arrest.

"Today, I have also ordered the Jakarta Police chief (Insp. Gen. Nurfaizi) to arrest Habib Ali Baagil," he said.

"It does not mean that (they are) necessarily guilty, but we deem that there are enough reasons to arrest (them)," Gus Dur, as the President is known, said.

Abdurrahman said the arrests must be made "to prevent further bomb attacks from taking place".

Separately, the chairman of the Defenders of Islam, Habib Rizieq Shihab, refuted the President's allegations, saying Habib Ali Baagil had never been involved in any acts of violence. However, he also failed to say in what connection he knew Habib Ali Baagil.

"I have strong evidence that Habib Ali Baagil is someone who would not resort to violence," he said as quoted by Antara, while demanding Abdurrahman apologize for his statements.


The head of the National Police's information department, Sr. Supt. Saleh Saaf, said later on Friday no arrests had been made.

"We actually did not directly get that order; we just received that information after the President said it during the Friday prayers ... but, we consider that instruction as a serious order and that follow-up actions should be taken," Saleh told SCTV on Friday evening.

He added that any action would be "professionally" carried out and that the police could only make an arrest if they had "enough preliminary evidence" that Tommy was involved in the bombings.

Later on Friday afternoon, after visiting victims of Wednesday's blast at Pertamina Hospital in South Jakarta, Abdurrahman said there was plenty of evidence against Tommy in relation to the bombing.

"There is so much evidence," Abdurrahman said when asked what proof existed. He added that he did not know when Tommy would be arrested. "We'll see whether this order is carried out or not."

Meanwhile, Soeharto's lawyer Juan Felix Tampubolon said Tommy was in Jakarta and that as of 8 p.m. on Friday he had not received a summons from the police in relation to the arrest or to appear for questioning.

Journalists waited in front of Tommy's heavily guarded residence in Menteng, Central Jakarta, on Friday evening in anticipation of an arrest.

Earlier in the day, Abdurrahman said the government had decided to take "drastic measures within one or two days" against those who were responsible for the bomb attacks "to prevent the same incident from taking place in the near future".

"One of the people (whose phone) has been tapped (has said) that several more places will be the target of bomb attacks," Abdurrahman told journalists after visiting Philippine Ambassador Leonides T. Caday, who is being treated at Medistra Hospital after being injured in a bomb attack in front of his residence in Central Jakarta in August.

"Enough is enough and it is about time that we take action," the President said.

Some have voiced their belief the recent spate of bomb attacks and ethnic violence in the outlying provinces were instigated by supporters of Soeharto, and Abdurrahman on Friday reinforced this view.

"There are still many people who would stand behind Soeharto and they are not poor like you, but they have money, resources and everything," Abdurrahman said in Kelapa Gading.

"A few days ago, students were beaten up (by pro-Soeharto supporters). That's why I called my nephew Syaifullah Yusuf this morning and asked him where he has been ... are you sleeping all day while people are busy mobilizing pro-Soeharto rallies like that?" the President said, referring to the chairman of Banser, the civilian guard of Muslim organization Nahdlatul Ulama.

"I am not proposing that we should pick a fight, but people are free to express their opinion, and we should not worry because the students are not alone in their campaign for justice," Abdurrahman added.

Meanwhile, police said they found another body in the basement of the Jakarta Stock Exchange building on Friday. They also said nine people had been questioned in relation to the bombing. (byg/bby/dja/jaw/prb)