Fri, 08 Dec 2000

Police to name suspects in Tommy's escape

JAKARTA (JP): National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Saleh Saaf said on Thursday the police would soon name three people believed to have helped Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra escape justice.

"There are three people we can declare suspects, but we will gather more information and evidence from witnesses to build up the cases against them," Saleh said at National Police Headquarters.

The officer refused to give any hints about the identities of the three. "We will not reveal their identities yet, because if we do they will prepare some excuse or alibi to defend themselves."

He also refused to say if the three had already been questioned by the police over Tommy's disappearance.

Saleh only said the three suspects would be charged under articles 221 and 216 of the Criminal Code for harboring a fugitive and for obstructing a police investigation, respectively.

Tommy's siblings -- sisters Siti Hardijanti Rukmana, Siti Hediati Hariyadi Prabowo and Siti Hutami Endang Adiningsih, and brothers Bambang Trihatmodjo and Sigit Hardjojudanto -- have been questioned by police over Tommy's whereabouts.

Tommy's wife Ardhia Pramesti Rigita Cahyani and father-in-law Bambang Sucahyo Ajie Suryobandoro also were questioned.

Police also questioned Tommy's lawyers -- Elza Syarif, Bob R.E. Nasution and Nudirman Munir -- and former lawyer Erman Umar over their client's disappearance.

All of those questioned insisted they had no knowledge of Tommy's whereabouts.

Police earlier said Tommy's family, also known as the Cendana family for the name of the street in Central Jakarta where most of them reside, were lying when they claimed not to know where Tommy was hiding.

However, citing Article 221, Paragraph 2 of the Criminal Code, police have said Tommy's family, including his wife, cannot be prosecuted for protecting Tommy even if they know his whereabouts.

Elza, who also represents Tommy's father-in-law, said when contacted by The Jakarta Post on Thursday it was impossible for her client, Bambang Sucahyo, to be named a suspect in the case.

"There is no single piece of evidence which can be used against (Bambang Sucahyo) in Tommy's disappearance," Elza said, adding that she had not spoken with Tommy since Nov. 2, when he disappeared.

Tommy was sentenced to 18 months in prison by the Supreme Court on Sept. 22, 2000, in connection with a 1995 land swap deal involving the State Logistics Agency (Bulog) and Tommy's company PT Goro Batara Sakti. The deal caused Rp 76.7 billion (US$8.07 million) in losses to the state.

Tommy disappeared shortly after President Abdurrahman Wahid formally rejected his pardon petition on Nov. 2.(jaw)