Fri, 29 Dec 2000

Idul Fitri spent in quiet solitude by inmates

JAKARTA (JP): Idul Fitri was spent in solitude by inmates in Greater Jakarta area on Wednesday.

Businessman Ricardo Gelael, a convict in a 1995 land swap deal who along with former president Soeharto's son Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra, has been sentenced to 18 months in jail, expressed his sadness of having to spend the holidays in jail.

"It is very sad, but it is fate and one cannot do anything against it (fate)," Ricardo told reporters at the Cipinang penitentiary in East Jakarta.

In contrast, one of two convicted murderers released from Cipinang on Idul Fitri, Mohammad Siradjuddin alias Pak De, who is remembered for the 1986 murder of pregnant model Dietje Budimuljono, expressed his joy.

"I have lost 14 years of my life in prison and I cannot have it back again. I hope law and justice will be enforced in this country," Pak De said.

Pak De was among the 1,077 Muslim convicts nationwide who were freed on Idul Fitri. 148 Christian convicts were freed on Monday.

A total of 26,578 of nearly 57,000 convicts nationwide received special remissions.

In the Salemba Penitentiary in Central Jakarta, East Timor militia leader Eurico Guterres had a quiet Christmas since his wife and three children are still in Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara.

"I spent Christmas with the other inmates and the wardens. They are my family and friends here," 24-year-old Eurico said during a gathering at the prison.

Eurico is being detained pending his trial which is slated for Jan. 2, 2001, over his alleged involvement in the seizure of his men's illegal weapons which had only shortly before been surrendered to the Atambua police station in East Nusa Tenggara last September.

"I'm ready to face my trial. Hopefully the judges will find me guilty so that the people can see how the country treats her national fighters. If this is case, eventually only Java island will remain in the unitary state of the Republic of Indonesia," he said.

"I devoted my life for my nation and my people, but now I am in jail. Once I get out of jail, I'll ask Jesus to guide me in the right way and I want to live for my wife and my kids."

Another Salemba prison inmate, former military cadet Ismail Putra, sentenced to a seven-year jail term for his role in the production of Rp 19.2 billion (US$2 million) in fake banknotes this year, and who still holds former Army chief Gen. Tyasno Sudarto responsible, expressed his new year wishes.

"My wish for the new year is that Indonesian courts handle military defendants differently," Ismail said.

Ismail said everything was justified in war, and that as a military man, he would have done anything to fight for the unitary state of the Republic of Indonesia.

"Killing is wrong, but in war, the more people I kill, the more medals I would have received. When the general (Tyasno) told me that East Timor was in grave danger of being separated from Indonesia and that the military had to do everything in their power to maintain it, I was ready," Ismail said.

"I produced fake money because my superior ordered me to."

Ismail added that his only disappointment with the Army was that his superior did not take responsibility for something which was "justified in war".


Meanwhile in the Tangerang women's penitentiary, some 150 female convicts listened attentively to a Muslim cleric, who advised them to strengthen their soul during rough times in prison.

International cocaine smuggler, Meirika Franola, alias Ola, who was sentenced to death in August said she thought of her husband, a drug smuggler from the Ivory Coast who was shot dead in a drug bust here in January.

"I think of him a lot. The one thing I pray for today is a long life. I hope God gives my children the patience to accept this test of losing their father, and the huge possibility of losing their mother too," Meirika said.

Meirika added that her second wish concerned her children.

"My New Year's resolution is to keep reminding my parents not to bring up my two children as they had brought me up. My children should never follow the footsteps of their father or mother."

Convicted for drug possession for the second time, former television actress Zarina Mirafsur alias Zarima, said that her prayers were reserved for her five-month-old baby Nikita Chairunnisya, and her family.

"I have been having mixed emotions. I'm sad that I have to spend Idul Fitri here without my family around but I am happy that they are coming tomorrow with my baby. How I miss her. I hope there's a silver lining to whatever has happened to me," she told journalists after the Idul Fitri prayers at the front yard of the penitentiary.

"I pray for my case to be over soon at the Supreme Court so that I can have my freedom back. I believe God is just and will punish those who had put me in trouble. I don't deserve this." (ylt/bby/01)