Fri, 14 Feb 2003

Police question student leader

JAKARTA: The Central Jakarta Police questioned student activist Rico Marbun for over 10 hours on Thursday about his involvement in an antigovernment rally last week during which a police officer was assaulted.

Rico's lawyer, Ecoline Situmorang, said police charged his client with violating Article 214 of the Criminal Code for acts against a law enforcer, which carries a maximum penalty of six years in jail.

During last Thursday's rally near President Megawati Soekarnoputri's official residence on Jl. Teuku Umar in Menteng, Central Jakarta, Rico, chairman of the Student Executive Board in Greater Jakarta, picked up a riot officer and carried him around in front of hundreds of student protesters. The move sparked anger among other officers and almost resulted in a clash.

Rico denied the charges, saying the students never intended to take the officer hostage. He said it was a peaceful rally to demand the government lower utility prices, arrest corrupt businesspeople and stop the sale of state assets. -- JP