Sat, 11 Nov 2000

Law enforcers come under fire over fugitive Tommy

JAKARTA (JP): Police and state prosecutors came under fire on Friday for failing to arrest Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra who has been convicted in a Rp 76.7 billion corruption case.

The so far unsuccessful hunt for the youngest son of former president Soeharto, who has been declared a fugitive, prompted human rights activist Frans Hendra Winata to question the authorities' ability in dealing with the high-profile case.

"What have the Attorney General's Office and the National Police done in searching for Tommy? I'm skeptical that the police and government prosecutors are not aware of the possible places in the country Tommy may be hiding," he said in a discussion organized by RCTI TV station here on Friday.

Frans, a member of the National Commission on Human Rights, said he suspected a plot between Tommy and his lawyers so that the authorities could not put him in jail.

"It's strange that although Tommy's lawyers have had several phone contacts with their client, they do not know of his whereabouts. They are also busy defending the innocence of their client," he said.

He also regretted President Abdurrahman Wahid's secret meeting with Tommy because besides raising public speculation, the meeting was not justifiable or ethical.

Frans said that despite Tommy's escape, the authorities must execute the Supreme Court's decision to ensure the certainty of law in Indonesia.

"This means Tommy must be arrested as soon as possible," he said, adding it would be better for Tommy to give up and serve his jail term.

Nudirman Munir, Tommy's lawyer, said in the discussion that his client was at large today because he felt he was innocent and that the authorities discriminated against him in handling the corruption case.

"I can prove that my client is not guilty of the charges and that the authorities had discriminated against him," he said.

He said 25 witnesses testified that the government had suffered no material losses, meaning the corruption charges were baseless.

"What we regret is that the panel of judges ignored the 25 witnesses' testimonies and accepted the testimonies of two expert witnesses who insisted the government had suffered Rp 90 billion in material losses in the land swap deal," he said, citing that the 25 witnesses gave their testimonies under oath while the two experts gave only their opinions.

He said authorities were also discriminative because the president's rejection of his client's request for a pardon was issued in less than a month, whereas normally a head of state would take longer before deciding on such an appeal.

Loebby Loqman, a professor of law at the University of Indonesia, questioned Tommy's motive in seeking a pardon from the head of state if he had felt he was innocent, saying Tommy should have first appealed to the Supreme Court.

"Such a thing is not normal in the judiciary system. Tommy has actually lost the case and that is why he has cried out that there is no justice in Indonesia," he said.

The National Awakening Party (PKB) faction at the House of Representatives called on the police and the Attorney General's Office to arrest Tommy to ensure the supremacy of law.

"The police and government prosecutors should work harder in finding Tommy. They will come under fire if they fail to execute the court's decision on Tommy," Taufikkurrahman Saleh, chairman of the faction said.(01/rms/jun)