Thu, 09 Nov 2000

Moerdiono denies making plan to attack PDI headquarters

JAKARTA (JP): Former minister/state secretary Moerdiono denied on Wednesday that a ministerial meeting prior to the violent takeover of the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) headquarters on July 27, 1996 had been the organizing base for the attack.

Moerdiono echoed former minister of defense and security Gen. (ret) Edi Sudradjat's statement before a joint military/police investigation team on Tuesday.

"As far as I can remember, the mood of the meeting did not reflect that an attack was planned on PDI headquarters," Moerdiono said, referring to the ministerial coordination meeting on politics and security affairs which was held on July 25, 1996.

He was speaking to reporters after being questioned by the joint team at the National Police headquarters.

Moerdiono said that it had been decided in the meeting that a free speech forum, which had been held at the PDI headquarters on Jl. Diponegoro in Central Jakarta, should be stopped because it had disturbed public order.

"But, the forum was supposed to be stopped according to the law," Moerdiono said.

He declined to elaborate, however, when asked about the procedures that the meeting had recommended to stop the forum.

"That's technical," he said.

The free speech forum was held at the party headquarters on a daily basis by supporters of then party chairperson, now incumbent Vice President, Megawati Soekarnoputri.

The forum was stopped when a mob, allegedly backed by elements in the then Armed Forces (ABRI), attacked the headquarters.

The action, which involved supporters of a PDI splinter group led by Soerjadi, left at least five people dead and 23 others reportedly still missing. The attack triggered massive unrest in Central Jakarta.

The joint team is currently questioning several figures who participated in several meetings prior to the incident which reportedly planned the party headquarters takeover.

Former minister of information Harmoko was questioned on Oct. 30 for attending a meeting allegedly related to the incident which was attended by several former ministers including then minister of justice Oetojo Oesman, then minister of home affairs Moch. Yogie S.M., and Edi Sudradjat.

Golkar's former secretary-general Ary Mardjono was questioned on Monday. (jaw)