Fri, 18 Jul 2003

Police raid gambling dens, arrest 565 suspects

Damar Harsanto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Police have launched a concerted raid against several gambling dens in the capital and arrested a total of 565 people as suspects in a month-long raid.

City Police Detective for Vice and Street Hoodlums Section Adj. Sr. Comr. Idham Azis said on Thursday that raids were made after a tip from another citizen.

"It's part of the police effort to get rid of unauthorized gambling in the city," he said.

In the latest public crackdown on Wednesday evening, the police raided four covert casinos, one in Mega Mall Pluit, North Jakarta; another at Gading 89 in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta; one in ITC Roxy Mas and the Malioboro building on Jl. Gajah Mada, both are in Central Jakarta.

Police arrested 119 suspects and seized Rp 37.4 million (US$4,560) in cash and 18 processing devices, which is a software system to run the gambling machines.

"We have detained 26 of the arrests. We won't from them from detention," Idham said, adding that the remaining 93 should report to the police once a week.

All 565 of the suspects will reportedly be put on trial.

According to the existing law and regulations, including the government regulation No. 9/1981, all forms of gambling are a crime. Those who break the law will be sentenced to a maximum of 10 years in jail or fined up to Rp 10 million.

Despite the mass arrest, Idham admitted that no known gambling bosses were arrested.

"Most of them are only managers of the sites," he said.

The police have claimed publicly that they were trying to fight gambling in the city but, amazingly enough gambling dens seem to be on the increase. It is essentially public knowledge that the police themselves often "protect" the illegal businesses and use them as cash cows.

Back in the 1970s, then Governor Ali Sadikin legalized gambling in a limited way, by providing several locations for gambling, they were still "protected" by unscrupulous officials who also may have benefited financially.

The City's official revenue earned from gambling taxes was then used to finance development projects in the city.

After criticism from ulemas and other religious leaders, gambling was later banned.

Incumbent Governor Sutiyoso said in April last year that his administration planned to build infrastructure for casinos in the Thousand Islands, North Jakarta.

However, his administration failed to implement the plan due to strong oppositions from some public figures.