Tue, 13 Jun 2000

Police to question Rudini, Mahadi over scam

JAKARTA (JP): Police will question State Minister of Youth Affairs and Sports Mahadi Sinambela and Rudini, the former chairman of the General Election Commission (KPU), over an alleged malfeasance in the purchase of flags for political parties during last year's general election.

"We have sent a letter to President Abdurrahman Wahid (to ask permission) to question Mahadi," director of corruption affairs at the National Police Brig. Gen. Timbul Silaen Timbul told reporters on Monday.

Mahadi was a KPU member from Golkar Party at the time.

Timbul said Mahadi and Rudini, a Cabinet minister under former president Soeharto, would be both questioned as witnesses over the case, which has put three KPU personnel -- chief of logistics affairs Achmad Latief and members I Wayan Iyasa and Bambang Mintoko -- in police custody.

"As a chairman, Rudini must have known what really happened in the KPU," officer Timbul said.

Mahadi, he said, would also be questioned because he had signed a receipt for the illegal funds, which were allegedly distributed to KPU members.

Police said Latief acknowledged to ordering only 5,000 flags from PT Sass Kencana for every political party from the 20,000 the government had requested KPU to order. Police said he gained more than Rp 5 billion from the fictitious project.

KPU member Clara Sitompul was also declared a suspect after police charged her with being responsible for distributing part of the money to all of the 48 political parties in which each gained Rp 107 million.

The flags were expected to be posted at well-known locations during the general election.

Police so far have named five suspects, including another KPU member, Saut Aritonang.

It is unclear why Saut and Clara were not put in jail.

Timbul said the police would also interrogate all representatives of the 48 political parties in the KPU at the time.

Separately, Clara's lawyer R.O. Tambunan said police had no legal basis to name his client as a suspect in the case.

"Clara was only asked by Bambang Mintoko to distribute 30 checks (to other KPU members)," Tambunan said on Monday.

The lawyer quoted Clara, who chaired the Indonesian Christian National Party (Krisna), as saying that there was no corruption taking place in KPU.

"From the beginning (KPU members) knew that the contractor would not be able to make 20,000 flags, so all of them decided to distribute the extra money (to KPU members)," Tambunan said, adding that the decision was approved by Rudini.

Another KPU member H.M. Bambang Sulistomo from the Indonesian Democratic Alliance Party (PADI) appeared at the National Police headquarters on Monday for questioning as a suspect in the flag money scandal.

After questioning, he said he had made himself a suspect in the case because he considered the KPU's decision to distribute the extra funds as unlawful.

"I've sent an official letter to the President, the attorney general, the House of Representatives speaker, and the National Police chief to proclaim myself a main suspect," Bambang said, asking the police to release Latief.

"Pak Achmad Latief only carried out what had been decided by a KPU plenary meeting," Bambang said.

Latief took no money at all, he said.

Bambang said every political party's representative in the KPU received Rp 90 million, which was later used as a campaign fund. (08)