Thu, 13 Mar 2003

Police submit case files of bomb suspects

Andi Hajramurni, The Jakarta Post, Makassar, South Sulawesi.

Police on Wednesday submitted to state prosecutors the case files of three men suspected of involvement in the bombing of a McDonald's restaurant in the South Sulawesi capital of Makassar that killed three people and injured 11 others last year.

Prosecutors received the case files of terror suspects Ilham Riyadi, Ittang and Haerul, bringing to nine the total number of submitted case files from the 19 suspects arrested.

"We are submitting the case files gradually as we are completing them gradually. The ones that are finalized will be immediately presented to prosecutors," South Sulawesi chief detective Snr. Comr. Achmad Abdi said.

Prosecutors have 14 days to study the files before filing the cases in court. Normally, prosecutors return case files they consider weak or in need of revision.

The police have so far named 24 suspects in connection with the bombing which damaged a McDonald's outlet and a Toyota car showroom. Nineteen people have been arrested, another died in the blast and four are still at large. The latest arrests were in February when four suspects were captured.

One constraint in producing strong dossiers was that none of the suspects were the key actors in the bombing, Abdi said.

He said their absence made it harder to corroborate suspects' confessions, and this had slowed investigations.

Police have named Agung Abdul Hamid, Hizbullah Rasyid, Dahlan and Mirjal as the key suspects in the attack.

The Makassar bombing occurred about two months after the Oct. 12 Bali bombing, which killed at least 202 people and injured 300 more, most of them foreign tourists.

Suspects in both attacks are reportedly linked to Jamaah Islamiyah (JI), a clandestine organization the United Nations has labeled a terrorist group following the Bali attack.

Investigators have linked Makassar bomb suspect Agung to Imam Samdura, the self-proclaimed mastermind of the Bali bombing.

There is also suspicion of foreign involvement in the attack, with one suspect pointing to al-Qaeda as the likely source of funds.

But as yet these links remain weak, and police have announced little, if any, progress in the investigation over the past month.

Assistant of general crimes at the Makassar prosecutors' office, Hamzah Tadja said his office would take its time to examine the latest batch of dossiers from the police.

"We do have 14 days to study the case files. After that we will made a recommendation on whether or not the files are complete," Hamzah said.

He said that prosecutors had returned the case files of two suspects, Imal and Hamid, who were part of the first batch.

Police taken their confessions without taking their vows, he explained. "This (vow) we ask to be added by the police."

The two suspects are charged with hiding explosives, or at least knowing about it without reporting it to the police.