Tue, 26 Sep 2000

Police seize firearms from Soeharto's family

JAKARTA (JP): Police on Monday seized 108 guns belonging to former president Soeharto and his family because their permits had expired.

"Fifty seven (of the seized guns) came from Soeharto's private gun collection," National Police spokesman Sen. Supt. Timbul Sianturi said, adding that the confiscated weapons were of various makes and types, including Walters and Colts.

Timbul said the guns in Soeharto's collection had already had their triggers removed and were for show only.

"So they can only be used to knock someone on the head," he quipped.

The remaining 51 guns were used for recreation and were registered to Soeharto's children, namely Bambang Trihatmodjo, Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra, Siti "Tutut" Hardijanti Indra Rukmana. Some were in the name of Tutut's husband, Indra Rukmana.

"These are sporting guns," Timbul remarked.

Timbul said no force was needed to confiscate the guns.

"We found out that the permits had expired so we asked them to hand over the guns to us, which they did," he said.

The permits were said to have been expired for about a year. There was no explanation why the weapons were only confiscated now.

National Police director of guns and explosive materials control Sen. Supt. J.A. Nardji said the guns could be returned to Soeharto and his family if their permits were renewed.

However, Nardji said there was really no need for the Soeharto family to keep guns, other than as a collection, as they were already provided with personal guards.

Timbul stressed that the seizure was part of a wider police Sapu Jaya Mandiri operation being conducted by police to sweep for guns and explosive materials, and not as a response to President Abdurrahman Wahid's order last week to disarm Soeharto's bodyguards.

"There is already a special team carrying out (the President's) order," Timbul said without elaborating.

On Friday, National Police chief Gen. Bimantoro said a team consisting of members from Bakin (State Intelligence Coordinating Board), Bais (the Indonesian Military's Strategic Intelligence Agency) and the National Police had been set up to disarm Soeharto's private bodyguards.

However, Timbul said that there was no a report yet on its progress.

Separately, Attorney General Marzuki Darusman said that there were no signs that the seized weapons were ones being used by Soeharto's personal security guards.

"There is no indication that the arms were being used by Soeharto's guards. The seized arms belonging to Soeharto are unused because their permits have expired," he said.(jaw/bby)