Thu, 10 Jul 2003

Police change stories on `Tempo' attack, lawyers for AJI say

Tertiani ZB Simanjuntak, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Lawyers for the Alliance of Independent Journalists (AJI), which has filed a suit against the police over the attack on the offices of Tempo weekly, accused officers on Wednesday of changing their stories in the case.

The lawyers, grouped in the Committee of Defenders of Press Freedom (KPKP), told the Central Jakarta District Court that statements by police officers testifying in the trial of David Tjioe, who has been charged with minor assault in the Tempo attack, contracted depositions given by officers in the AJI suit.

"This proves that perjury has taken place," KPKP coordinator Azas Tigor Nainggolan said.

The defendants in the lawsuit are the National Police chief, the Jakarta Police chief, the Central Jakarta Police chief and the chief of the Menteng Police substation. The suit accuses the officers of negligence of duty in failing to stop the Tempo attack.

Lawyers for the police have countered that the officers were not negligent, but "could not stop David Tjioe from hitting and kicking (Tempo chief editor) Bambang Harymurti".

David led a demonstration on March 8 of a group of people who claimed to be supporters of businessman Tomy Winata. They were protesting an article by Tempo which insinuated that Tomy had something to do with the fire that badly damaged the Tanah Abang market in February.

The court is scheduled to deliver its verdict in David's assault case on Thursday.

In the AJI suit, presiding judge Iskandar Tjake adjourned the hearing until July 14.

Azas Tigor said the AJI lawyers would ask the court to admit video footage of the alleged assault on the Tempo chief editor, which reportedly took place inside the office of the Central Jakarta Police's chief of detectives.