Mon, 20 Nov 2000

Marzuki asks for more time to capture fugitive Tommy

JAKARTA (JP): As police prepare to question the wife, sister and father-in-law of Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra on Monday, Attorney General Marzuki Darusman pleaded on Sunday for "a few weeks" of public patience for authorities to seek out the country's most wanted fugitive.

National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Saleh Saaf said on Sunday that Tommy's sister Siti Hutami Endang Adiningsih, wife Ardhia Pramesti Rigita Cahyani and father-in-law Bambang Sucahyo Ajie have been summoned to appear for questioning at National Police headquarters on Monday.

"We are going to question all who have given guarantees that Tommy would not avoid his execution (prison sentence) for corruption," Saleh remarked.

Saleh further told The Jakarta Post that Tommy's four other siblings would be questioned later in the week.

Tommy was convicted by the Supreme Court and sentenced to serve 18-month's imprisonment in Cipinang penitentiary, East Jakarta and to pay his share of Rp 30.6 billion out of the total state losses of Rp 76.7 billion caused in a land swap scam with the State Logistics Agency (Bulog) in 1995.

His wife, better known as Tata, has given guarantees that Tommy would not flee or avoid execution while asking for an execution stay from the South Jakarta District Court at the time her husband submitted an appeal for presidential pardon.

Tommy went missing a day after President Abdurrahman Wahid refused to grant him a pardon on Nov. 2 and was quickly declared a fugitive by the police.

Separately, Marzuki Darusman told the Post that the authorities deserve more time to find and to arrest Tommy.

"It's been more than two weeks since we started the search and we need a few weeks more to find Tommy. No deadline is given," he said suggesting that it could possibly take longer.

"Moreover, what would happen if Tommy has not been found (by the deadline) while I have pledged another two weeks to arrest him," he said.

Marzuki said that although family members cannot be asked to testify against each other in court, the questioning is necessary to gather information on Tommy's possible whereabouts.

"Tommy and his siblings were living in one housing complex and there were reports that they were still communicating with each other. We believe that Tommy is being hidden and is being helped by several parties, namely his family," he said while noting Article 221 of the Criminal Code which stipulates that those who protect and hide wanted criminals could face a jail sentence of up to nine years.

On Saturday, South Jakarta prosecutors seized Tommy's private assets located in West Java, including a 3.6 hectare plot of land in Gunung Guling village, Cibinong area, Bogor along with a villa built in it.

Prosecutors also confiscated two plots of land in Bulakan village, Serang, one 11,300 square meters and the other 730 square meters.

Earlier, the office had taken Tommy's homes on Jl. Cendana No. 12 and Jl. Yusuf Adiwinata No. 4 in Menteng area, Central Jakarta as collateral for the convict's obligation to pay the state losses as ordered by the Supreme Court. (bby)