Tue, 10 Oct 2000

Hamami named a suspect

JAKARTA (JP): Former Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Hamami Nata was formally declared a suspect on Monday in an official investigation into the violent takeover of the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) headquarters in 1996, his lawyer said.

"He (Hamami) was questioned today in his capacity as a suspect," lawyer O.C. Kaligis told reporters after accompanying his client through a nine-hour marathon questioning session at Military Police Headquarters.

In spite of his new status, Hamami was not put under arrest.

He left the building after the questioning by a joint National Police-Military Police team comprising Col. Handragiri, Col. Farid Ali, Col. Hendraryono, and Supt. Ari Pribadi.

None of the team members were available to confirm Hamami's new status.

Hamami becomes the most senior officer from either the Indonesian Military or the National Police to be named as a suspect in connection with the July 27, 1996, attack which led to a bloody riot in Jakarta.

He was formally charged with the use of force against people and property under Article 170 of the Criminal Code, an offense punishable with up to five years and six months in prison.

As the chief of the Jakarta Police, Hamami was responsible for the security of the capital. The present Jakarta governor Sutiyoso, who was chief of the Jakarta Military Command in 1996, has also been questioned but not named a suspect.

"I explained to the team what I have done. I said it was my duty as the Jakarta Police chief to uphold security (then)," Hamami told reporters after the questioning.

Hamami denied, however, that he should bear all the responsibility for what happened.

"There was an instruction from my superior," he said. He declined to elaborate.

Kaligis pointed to a high-level meeting two days prior to the attack at the office of the Coordinating Minister for Political and Security Affairs.

The PDI office at the time was occupied by supporters of the ousted PDI leader Megawati Soekarnoputri. During the brief occupation, the PDI office on Jl. Diponegoro became the venue for a free speech forum, with activist verbally attacking the government of then president Soeharto and his policies.

On the day in question, a group of supporters of the PDI splinter faction, backed by elements of the military, attacked and took over the party headquarters. The raid triggered unrest in Central Jakarta which left five dead. (02)