Fri, 03 Jan 2003

Police to examine Bali suspect's laptop

I Wayan Juniartha, The Jakarta Post, Denpasar, Bali

The police said on Thursday they would examine the content of a laptop computer belonging to one of the suspected Bali bombers, pending the arrival of computer experts from Jakarta and Australia.

They will also send home 45-year-old Suharyanto alias Mulkas Ardi to Klaten, Central Java, for lacking of evidence about his role in the bombing after he surrendered himself to the police last week.

Head of the Indonesian-Australian joint investigating team Insp. Gen. Made Mangku Pastika said his team was waiting for the arrival of computer experts from the National Police and Australian Federal Police (AFP).

The computer belongs to Abdul Aziz alias Imam Samudra, one of the 15 suspects the police detained in connection with the October Bali bombing, which killed more than 190 people, mainly foreign tourists.

Samudra admitted to his involvement in the attack, and police believe he played a key role in planning it.

Pastika said computer experts appointed by lawyers of Samudra would also participate in the examination of the laptop.

He said he told the experts to arrive by Thursday night, but added that flights to and from Bali were full during the year-end holiday season.

"The Indonesian and Australian experts are expected to arrive tomorrow (Friday)," he said. "So I think we'll be able to start opening the laptop and examine its hard disk contents on Monday."

Police found the laptop at Samudra's home following his arrest in November last year.

Pastika did not say what information he expected to pry out from the laptop. But he said police had enough evidence on Samudra, regardless of what would be learned from his laptop.

Samudra is allegedly linked to the underground organization Jamah Islamiyah (JI) -- a terrorist group which aims to establish a Southeast Asian Islamic State, and is said to have bases in Singapore and Malaysia.

The laptop was manufactured by Acer and its harddisk by Toshiba, said investigating team spokesman Brig. Gen. Edward Aritonang.

Pastika earlier dismissed notions the police had tampered with the laptop, possibly planting data after it was confiscated.

Except for the three copies made of the hard disk, he said, police had left the laptop untouched.

Samudra's chief lawyer Qadhar Faisal said his team had asked for the help of computer experts from the Bandung Institute of Technology (ITB) and state-owned aircraft manufacturer PT Dirgantara. "We're still waiting for their response," he said.

Commenting on the involvement of Samudra's lawyers in the examination, Pastika explained that transparency and objectivity were necessary. "We don't want to be accused of manipulating facts by working alone," he said.

Pastika also said that Suharyanto would remain under police surveillance after he was be sent home. He surrendered himself to the Klaten police, claiming he had carried a suspicious looking package to Bali just a few days prior to the explosion.

A psychologist later said the man was mentally healthy although of limited intelligence.

"We think we have already got enough information from him. Besides, when he was shown the pictures of the detained suspects and those who are still at large, Suharyanto failed to recognize any of them," he said.

Elsewhere, police arrested another suspect in the bombing of a McDonalds outlet that killed three people in Makassar, Central Sulawesi, in December last year.

Thirteen people have since been arrested in connection with the bombing, including Thursday's arrest of 46-year-old Anton alias Iyad, Antara reported.

Police nabbed Anton at his home in Takabale village, Southeast Sulawesi.