Thu, 30 Nov 2000

Gus Dur to sue Soehartos, lawyers for defamation

JAKARTA (JP): President Abdurrahman is preparing to take legal action against several members of the family of former president Soeharto and their lawyers over defamation, a presidential spokesman said on Wednesday.

"Gus Dur will sue people who have made slanderous accusations especially those concerning the meeting at the Borobudur hotel," presidential spokesman Adhie Massardi told journalists.

Adhie was referring to the secret meeting between the President, known as Gus Dur, and Soeharto's youngest son Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra at the five-star hotel last month.

Gus Dur has said that during the meeting he repeated that he would not grant Tommy the presidential pardon he was seeking over an 18-month-jail term for corruption issued by the Supreme Court in September.

Adhie said that the President would take legal action against Tommy's lawyers, his father-in-law Bambang Sucahyo Suryobandoro and Tommy's sister Siti Hediati Hariyadi, popularly known as Titiek Prabowo.

"The President is currently in the process of submitting a complaint with the prosecutor's office and the police," Adhie said.

Titiek was grilled by the police last week over the whereabouts of Tommy. At the time she retaliated saying that it was time the police asked Abdurrahman about Tommy's disappearance.

Many suspect that during the meeting with Tommy, Abdurrahman was trying to cut a deal to secure the return of the Soeharto family wealth allegedly amassed during his 32 years in power.

Gus Dur, however, has repeatedly dismissed such speculation.

Tommy has been on the run since Nov. 3, the day after Gus Dur refused to grant him a presidential pardon.

Meanwhile, chairman of the Indonesian Lawyer's Association (IKADIN) Sudjono said the police could not name the family of former president Soeharto suspects in the escape of his youngest son Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra although they might know his whereabouts.

"Article 221 of the Criminal Code clearly says that the family of a convict who is on the run cannot be prosecuted due to their knowledge of his or her whereabouts," he was quoted by Antara.

Sudjono declined to comment on the police's decision to name Tommy's father-in-law RM. Bambang Adi Sucahyo a suspect and arrest him for allegedly hampering the execution of Supreme Court verdict, which sentenced Tommy to 18 months in jail.

"It is improper, but police perhaps have the reasons for that," he said.

The arrest followed reports from the South Jakarta prosecutors' office.

A criminal law professor at University of Indonesia, Andi Hamzah, seconded Sudjono's remarks, saying that the arrest of Tommy's father-in-law lacked legal basis.

But Andi agreed that everybody, incuding Soeharto's family, was equal before the law.

He hailed the police's decision to name Tommy's sister Siti Hutami Endang Adiningsih for illegal arm possession. (01/byg)