Mon, 03 Jan 2000

Police's arrest of Petrus unlawful: Court

JAKARTA (JP): The South Jakarta District Court issued a ruling on Friday declaring the city police arrest of lawyer Petrus Bala Pattyona on Dec. 14 as unlawful.

Judge Soedarto said in a hearing of a pretrial lawsuit that the city police did not have the authority to rule that the document, presented by Petrus before a separate hearing in the courtroom earlier, was fake.

"It is the court's authority to declare whether the document was real or fake," said Soedarto, while adding that the announcement must be made at a separate hearing.

The lawsuit was filed on Dec. 20 by Petrus against city police chief Maj. Gen. Noegroho Djajoesman.

The city police chief was represented by lawyer Capt. Pali, while Petrus was by, among others, lawyer Trimedya Panjaitan.

The disputed document was a handwritten testimony by Ahian Santoso, alias Yeye, a boyfriend of drug suspect Zarina Mirafsur.

Zarina and Yeye were arrested, along with eight other suspects, by the city police last November in an apartment in West Jakarta for alleged drug use and possession.

Zarina repeatedly insisted that the shabu-shabu (crystal methamphetamine) seized by the police after the arrest was owned by Yeye.

In a police report, Yeye claimed that the drugs were owned by Zarina. But Soedarto said Yeye later signed a written testimony, witnessed by Zarina's lawyers Ali Mazi and Roy Rening, stating that he owned the drugs.

"It shows that the authenticity of the document remains unclear," said Soedarto, adding that it would need another court hearing to determine the document's authenticity.

Soedarto rejected the police's defense statement for the arrest, which said the police caught Petrus red-handed.

Paragraph 2 of Article 18 of the Criminal Code stipulates that the police do not need a warrant when they catch a suspect red- handed.

"Although the police can argue that they have lawfully arrested the plaintiff red-handed, they still can't rule the document is fake since the authenticity of the document is unclear," Soedarto said.

"Therefore, the arrest was unlawful."

In response to Petrus' demand that the city police publish a statement of apology in local and overseas media, Soedarto said that was too much.

"The Criminal Code has yet to rule on such a rehabilitation procedure," he said without elaborating.

Several plainclothes detectives arrested Petrus on Dec. 14, shortly after the latter attended a pretrial lawsuit filed by his client Mirafsur Khan, Zarina's father, against the city police.

Petrus represented Mirafsur, who filed suit last month to demand the court declare the city police's move to arrest his daughter on Nov. 11 as unlawful.

The court ruled in favor of the city police, and declared the arrest was lawful at a hearing held at the South Jakarta district court on Dec. 17.

Petrus said he was satisfied with the pretrial verdict.

"This should be a lesson to the police that they must obey laws and procedures in the future," he said after the hearing. (asa)