Fri, 04 May 2001

Investigation into Ginandjar graft case halted

JAKARTA (JP): The Attorney General's Office has decided to halt an investigation into corruption charges against former minister of mines and energy Ginandjar Kartasasmita, pending the verdict of the Supreme Court over its objection to a lower court ruling.

Prosecutor Barman Zahir said on Thursday it would be useless to resume the probe since the South Jakarta District Court stated on Wednesday that the existing joint investigation team had no legal base.

"The problem is that Judge Soedarto's decision was based on a military regulation that states that police investigators should be included in a joint investigation team and that the state prosecutors are merely members of the team.

"Meanwhile, we adhere to the 1971 Anticorruption Law under which the attorney general should lead a joint team formed to investigate a case involving military officers and civilians. If we insist on continuing with the investigation, we'll only end up dealing with another pretrial motion (such as that filed by Ginandjar)," he told The Jakarta Post.

On Wednesday, the district court ordered Ginandjar's release from the detention of the Attorney General's Office. The hearing was based on Ginandjar's complaint against Attorney General Marzuki Darusman.

State prosecutors had earlier named three other suspects in the case which allegedly caused US$24.8 million in losses to the state. The three were Ginandjar's successor Ida Bagus Sudjana, former president of state oil and gas company Pertamina Faisal Abda'oe and private oil company PT Ustraindo Petro Gas director Praptono H. Tjitrohupojo.

The investigation began early this year.

Ginandjar, also deputy chairman of the People's Consultative Assembly, had written a paper in his own defense during detention, saying that the graft case was merely being used to make him a scapegoat for the numerous problems the nation is facing.

In Sebuah Pledoi (A Legal Defense), he defended his innocence and stated he had never launched a movement to topple President Abdurrahman "Gur Dur" Wahid.

"The allegation is groundless and it's purpose is only to find someone to blame for the many serious problems the government is facing. If the allegation was true it should be accepted as normal in a democracy. Differences of opinion must also be respected, without being considered subversion," he told a media conference at the House of Representatives/People's Consultative Assembly building here on Thursday.

Ginandjar said he remained cool-headed when asked by the Attorney General's Office to return home from Boston for questioning since he was sure he had nothing to do with the corruption case.

He said that despite his arrest, he would not take revenge against the President and his supporters but was considering suing the Attorney General over the arbitrary arrest.

"I'm considering suing the Attorney General to prevent him from conducting such arbitrary arrests in the future," he said. (bby/rms)