Sat, 12 Apr 2003

Palu police arrest another Makassar bomb suspect

Andi Hasjramurni and Erick W., The Jakarta Post, Palu/Makassar

Police in the Central Sulawesi capital of Palu have arrested a suspect in the Makassar bombings who has been on the run since December last year.

The suspect, identified as Wirahadi alias Hadi, 21, was apprehended on Thursday at his boarding house on Jl. Sisimangaraja in East Palu district, chief of the provincial police Brig. Gen. Taufiq Ridha on Friday.

With the arrest of Hadi, four suspects in the Dec. 5 blasts in a McDonald's outlet and the NV. Hadji Kalla car dealership in the South Sulawesi capital of Makassar remain at large. They include the alleged mastermind, Agung Abdul Hamid.

"The suspect admitted during questioning that he was the one who planted the bomb in the car showroom on the orders of Agung," Ridha said.

The blasts, which claimed three lives, were the first since the bombings on Bali on Oct. 12, 2002, which killed 202 people, mostly foreigners. Police said the two incidents were connected to the Jamaah Islamiyah regional terror group, which operates in Southeast Asia.

Hadi, a resident of Moengko subdistrict in the Central Sulawesi town of Poso, went to Makassar along with another suspect, Aco, after receiving some money from Agung, according to Ridha.

The police chief said Hadi was also a suspect in a bomb attack on a government office in Poso only four days before the Makassar blasts.

It remained unclear whether the blast in Poso, an area that had been rocked by almost three years of sectarian conflict prior to a peace deal in December 2001, also involved Agung. No fatalities resulted from the explosion.

Ridha said Hadi, who had been wanted by the provincial police for the past few months, offered no resistance when detectives raided his home. The police also seized a motorcycle, which they suspected had been stolen by Hadi.

It was the motorcycle that actually led to Hadi's arrest, according to Ridha. The bike had been reported missing by its owner, who is a resident of Sausu subdistrict in Parigi Moutong regency, Central Sulawesi.

The Palu police investigators discovered that Hadi was wanted in connection with the bombings in Poso and Makassar.

"He admitted to playing a role in the Makassar and Poso bombings, but he denied the theft accusation," Ridha said.

Police have named a total 24 suspects as being involved in the Makassar bombings.

They sent on Friday five suspects and their case files to the state prosecutor's office in the city.

The five men, identified as Ilham Riyadi, Suriadi, Suryadi Mas'ud, Haerul and Muhammad Tang, alias Ittang, were handed over by chief detective Adj Sr. Comr. Effendy Napitupulu to Hamzah Tadja, the assistant to the chief prosecutor of general crime affairs.

On Thursday the police transferred eight suspects, as well as evidence, such as chemical materials, machetes and a motorcycle, to the prosecutor's office.

The trial is expected to start at the end of this month.