Fri, 11 Feb 2000

Military sets deadline for Sudjono's arrest

BANDUNG (JP): Chief of Siliwangi Military Command Maj. Gen. Slamet Supriyadi has ordered the provincial military police to capture Lt. Col. Sudjono, an Aceh massacre suspect, within a week.

The provincial military spokesman Lt. Col. Fatwa Suratnoko told reporters here on Thursday that the order was officially given to the chief of West Java Military Police Col. Wasisto earlier in the day.

Fatwa said the search had already begun on Tuesday following a verbal order from Slamet.

According to Fatwa, photographs of Sudjono would be distributed to all West Java military offices and media in the next two days in a bid to intensify the manhunt.

Sudjono has been declared a key suspect in the mass killings in Tengku Bantaqiah, an Islamic boarding school teacher, his wife, students and dozens of farmers in the Beutong area, some 100 kilometers south of the North Aceh capital of Lhokseumawe, in July last year.

Sudjono, the intelligence chief of the Lhokseumawe-based Lilawangsa Military Command, was one of 20 military personnel and civilians who were scheduled to stand trial later this month for crimes against humanity.

Military officials have said that Sudjono disappeared after obtaining permission to go on a 30-day leave to Cirebon in West Java, his hometown.

On Wednesday Indonesian Military (TNI) spokesman Air Rear Marshal Graito Usodo declared the suspect a deserter on Jan. 18.

Fatwa said on Thursday that Wednesday afternoon's search for Sudjono was fruitless. "We did not find him in his Cimahi or Purwakarta houses," he said.

"Sudjono has not seen his family since the beginning of his leave. The military has no idea when Sudjono was last seen," said Fatwa.

Fatwa added that the suspect said he wanted to go to Purwakarta for a health treatment on his first day of leave, however, there is no official confirmation whether he was in Purwakarta.

"His family has given up. But reports said he is most likely still in West Java," Fatwa said.

The town of Cirebon is now the target, following information from the Army Headquarters that the suspect is there. Cirebon is some 130 kilometers northeast of here.

In a hearing with the House of Representatives in Jakarta, Indonesian Military (TNI) Chief Adm. Widodo A.S. regretted Sudjono's unknown whereabouts, saying his absence hampered the investigation into the human rights violations in Aceh.

Widodo said Sudjono was categorized as violating military discipline and the military criminal code.

Violence continues

In a massive outbreak of violence in a riot-torn province of Aceh, 16 people, including a police officer, were killed and eight injured in several fresh clashes between rebels and security personnel, officials and witnesses said on Thursday.

Four suspected Free Aceh Movement (GAM) rebels were killed in a gun battle on Wednesday in Cot Meurebo village in Kuta Makmur district about 27 kilometers south of Lhokseumawe, the capital of North Aceh, said local military chief Lt. Col. Suyatno.

The four were Mukhtar Hasan, 26; Mukthar AS, 20; Lukman Sufi, 21 and Saifullah, 25. He added that eight of his soldiers were wounded by a grenade thrown by one of the rebels.

"We were about to raid a GAM base there when they intercepted the action. We confiscated four guns from them," Suyatno said.

However, Ismail Syahputra, a rebel spokesman, claimed that the victims were peasants working on a plantation and that a number of soldiers were killed in the clash.

Also in North Aceh, two civilians named Syafei, 45, and Wahidin, 40, were found dead Wednesday after being abducted by unidentified gunmen, police chief Lt. Col. Syafei Aksal said.

Syafei also said that Sgt. Maj. Alimuddin, a police officer wounded in a grenade attack last month, died in hospital on Wednesday.

In neighboring Pidie regency, villagers found three unidentified burned bodies, said local police chief Lt. Col. Endang Emiqail Bagus. The first two remains were unidentified, while another dead body was believed to be the body of M. Jafar, a civilian.

Alleged rebels Suryadi, 20 and Gambit Husin, 28 were shot dead in a raid at Cot Jaja village in Pidie on Wednesday, said local military chief Lt. Col. Iskandar M.S.

In South Aceh, villagers found two more unidentified bodies with major head injuries, while two other bodies were found in East Aceh and Bireun.

Wednesday's violence brought the death toll to at least 43 this week. In January at least 113 people were killed; most of them were civilians.

The rebels are fighting for an independent state in Aceh. More than 1,000 people have died in the conflict in the past decade.

Separately, Minister of Human Rights Affairs Hasballah M. Saad held a closed meeting on Thursday with Aceh Governor Syamsuddin Mahmud which included the provincial police and military and legislative chiefs in Banda Aceh to discuss a joint tribunal between civilian and martial courts for the alleged human rights violations in Aceh.

Hasballah is scheduled to meet with academicians and students at the Darussalam campus, which host Syah Kuala University and IAIN Islamic Institute later in the day. (25/50/51/edt/emf/sur)