Fri, 17 Nov 2000

Gus Dur upset over Tommy

JAKARTA (JP): President Abdurrahman Wahid has no plans to fire Attorney General Marzuki Darusman or National Police chief Gen. Surojo Bimantoro despite their failure to arrest Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra, presidential spokesman Wimar Witoelar said on Thursday.

"There is no such plan. But the President will conduct intensive evaluations (of Marzuki and Bimantoro) because he is very upset with the work of the (legal) apparatus," he told The Jakarta Post several hours after the President arrived home following a week-long overseas trip.

Wimar said on Wednesday Gus Dur, as the President is known, hoped that Tommy, the youngest son of former president Soeharto, would be arrested before he arrived home.

Gus Dur and his entourage landed in Jakarta on Thursday evening from Brunei.

Wimar said he had not yet had the opportunity to meet with the President, who was resting after the trip.

Tommy, a noted businessman, has been sentenced to 18 months in jail on corruption charges stemming from a 1995 land swap deal with the State Logistics Agency (Bulog). The deal caused the state some Rp 76.7 billion in losses.

He has been on the run since Nov. 3, the day after Gus Dur refused to grant him a pardon. A number of journalists said they saw Tommy in a car -- escorted by at least seven other vehicles -- as he left his house on Jl. Cendana in Central Jakarta around midday on Nov. 3.

The home was seized on Tuesday by prosecutors in a move to secure the fugitive's private assets. Tommy was ordered by the Supreme Court on Sept. 22 to repay the some Rp 30.6 billion he cost the state as a result of the land deal, as well as a fine of Rp 10 million.

According to Wimar, an evaluation of the performances of Marzuki and Bimantoro was just part of the process.

"If this problem (in arresting Tommy) cannot be settled, it will become the problem of the executives," he said.

The President, he said, felt that prosecutors should not have allowed Tommy to go free.

"That is why the President needs clarification from Marzuki, who might also be disappointed with the work of his staff (which allowed Tommy to flee)," Wimar added.

The South Jakarta Prosecutor's Office -- which is under the supervision of Marzuki -- ordered Tommy to surrender on Nov. 2, the same day the President refused to grant him a pardon.

After Tommy failed to appear, the prosecutors extended the deadline for Tommy to surrender by one day.

However, Tommy did not surrender, instead his lawyers showed up at the prosecutor's office, saying their client would not appear until he had received an authentic copy of the presidential decree rejecting his pardon. The lawyers claimed they had only received a copy certified by the district court.

Separately on Thursday, Marzuki denied his staff has been slow in arresting Tommy.

He said his office has been coordinating with the National Intelligence Body since Wednesday to locate and arrest the fugitive.

"Replacing or evaluating me is the right of the President," Marzuki said, adding that he would not carry out his duties based on a deadline, but would do everything in his power to arrest Tommy.

"The most crucial thing for me is to arrest Tommy as soon as possible. No deadline," Marzuki said.

Separately, Bimantoro said special police teams, in cooperation with the National Intelligence Body, had been formed in each province to locate Tommy.

He said the police were putting forth their best effort to find the fugitive.

But Bimantoro said he would accept responsibility if Tommy was not arrested soon.

Tommy's wife Ardhia Pramesti Rigita Cahyani, or Tata, failed to appear at National Police Headquarters on Thursday to be questioned about the whereabouts of her husband.

Police offered no explanation as to why she refused to appear. It also remained unclear whether the police would arrest Tata, who, according to Marzuki and other prosecutors, had said she would be willing to be arrested if her husband fled.

She made this guarantee when Tommy filed an appeal on Oct. 2 at the South Jakarta District Court to extend the execution of his jail sentence.

"Even though Tata has failed to fulfill her letter of guarantee, legally we cannot arrest her ... ," Marzuki said on Thursday.

According to Bimantoro, the police would continue their efforts to summon and question Tommy's relatives in an attempt to learn the whereabouts of the nation's most wanted criminal. (bsr/bby/02/jaw/bkm)