Fri, 04 May 2001

Police release all Suripto's personnel

JAKARTA (JP): City police have released three men arrested on Monday for illegal possession of weapons allegedly under the employ of former secretary-general of the forestry ministry, Suripto.

Police said on Thursday that like Suripto, the three men had been named suspects but the police did not have enough evidence to detain them.

"As does Suripto, these men must report to the police once a week. The police cannot possibly detain them now since we still lack evidence, and need more proof before we can officially detain them," city police chief of detectives, Sr. Comr. Adang Rochana, told reporters on Thursday.

The three released suspects were identified by police as Asep Saifulloh, 38, Akhmad Paradis, 37 and Agus Julianto, 32. They were arrested by Central Jakarta Police in a room in Hotel Cemara in Menteng, Central Jakarta, on Monday.

The police found the three men in possession of dangerous weapons. Police described the weapons as 10 steel rods with sharp, star-like figures on the ends.

Suripto earlier told police that he had reserved the hotel room for his men to observe the security situation in the capital. But he claimed that he had no knowledge of the sharp weapons.

When asked why police could not detain the three men on the charge of illegal weapon possession, Sr. Comr. Adang said that police were mainly focusing their investigation on the possibility that Suripto could have provided state secrets "to unknown parties".

"These three men could have been backing Suripto in this as well ... we are focusing our investigation on that, not the weapons possession charge," Adang told reporters, without elaborating.

Meanwhile, National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Didi Widayadi said on Thursday that National Police would be seeking advice from the National Cryptographic Institute (LSN) and the National Archives Institute (LKN) about documents which could be classified as state secrets.

"We may seek advice from LSN and LKN, on whether documents found in Suripto's office in South Jakarta, could be classified as state secrets," Didi said.

Suripto's lawyer, Effendi Saman, had earlier said that there was the possibility that Suripto's arrest was not about leaking state secrets, but was linked to the fact that Suripto had provided evidence of corruption, allegedly committed by timber tycoon Prajogo Pangestu.

Prajogo is one of three businessmen who were at one point exempted from investigation by the Attorney General's Office at the request of President Abdurrahman Wahid.

City police chief Insp. Gen. Mulyono Sulaiman, who is scheduled to be replaced by Insp. Gen. Sofyan Yacob next week, said on Thursday that the actions taken by his force were not the result of political pressure.

"I have not been pressured by any political party, political leader, or individual. There are technical reasons for the decisions taken recently in the Suripto case by the city police force. We are continuing the investigation," Mulyono told reporters at city police headquarters.

On Thursday morning, Suripto was summoned by the Attorney General's Office to testify as a witness for a logging concession corruption scandal linked to Prajogo.

"Prosecutor Soewandi told me that state prosecutors had actually named Prajogo as a suspect, and that he had been banned from traveling overseas," Suripto told reporters on Thursday at the Attorney General's Office, after the questioning.

His statement was however firmly denied by spokesman to the Attorney General's Office, Muljohardjo, who said that the case was still under examination and that "prosecutors had yet to name any suspect in the case." (ylt/bby)