Mon, 22 May 2000

Muzadi mulls suing 'Jawa Pos' over apology

JAKARTA (JP): Nahdlatul Ulama (NU) chairman Hasyim Muzadi is considering filing suit against Surabaya-based Jawa Pos daily for an inadequate apology for a report linking corruption to the country's largest Muslim organization.

The chairman of East Java's Ansor Youth Movement, MH Rofiq, said on Saturday the lawsuit would be filed as soon as possible.

He said the daily's apology was neither satisfactory nor in keeping with the agreed terms, the manner of which demonstrated the newspaper's sincerity and confession of guilt.

"The lawsuit is now under our study. Pak Hasyim has delegated this matter to us," Rofiq told Antara on the sidelines of a seminar on nationalism in Surabaya. He said NU was consulting its lawyers regarding the lawsuit.

"It's likely that we will file our lawsuit in civilian court because the libel deals with money. Pak Hasyim will probably demand a certain sum of compensation," Rofiq said.

The daily agreed to publish a quarter-page apology on the front page for seven consecutive days, build a mosque and take disciplinary actions against reporters after hundreds of angry NU's Banser civilian guards raided its office following a report on corruption two weeks ago.

In its May 6 edition, the daily quoted Tempo weekly magazine which had misidentified a man named Hasyim Muzadi as Hasyim Wahid, President Abdurrahman Wahid's younger brother, in a Rp 35 billion embezzlement scandal linked to recent leadership changes at the State Logistics Agency (Bulog).

The magazine apologized for the error and sent a personal letter to Hasyim to seek his forgiveness.

Abdurrahman later reprimanded the daily for the coverage and alleged it was part of an attempt to topple his government. He also denied the alleged corruption.

Attorney General Marzuki Darusman announced on Friday that his office together with a Bulog team led by its chief Rizal Ramli were investigating the missing Rp 35 billion from the agency.

East Java's Ansor also released on Saturday a white book on the much criticized raid by Banser on the Jawa Pos office at Graha Pena building.

The document contains facts on the background to the daily office's occupation by Banser guards.

Rofiq said 100,000 copies of the book would be distributed to NU executives nationwide and other related institutions.

"The book is published to help people look into the case proportionally," he said. (01)