Fri, 15 Sep 2000

PRD hearing postponed over technicality

JAKARTA (JP): The Central Jakarta District Court adjourned on Thursday the hearing of a Rp 5.2 billion (US$612,000) lawsuit against former president Soeharto and 11 other defendants.

The court session, held simultaneously with the former president's US$571 million graft trial at the South Jakarta District Court, was to hear a statement from the defense in response to the suit filed by the Democratic People's Party (PRD).

The suit was filed over the July 27, 1996, blood takeover of the Jakarta headquarters of the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI).

"The court has yet to receive a recommendation from the Indonesian Army chief about the lawyers eligible to represent the military defendants in the court hearings," presiding Judge Musa Simatupang said.

Major Nur Hajizah, one of the lawyers representing the military defendants, asked the judge to adjourn the trial for two weeks to allow the defense to secure the Army chief's recommendation.

Judge Musa approved Nur's request after rejecting a request by a lawyer representing PRD chairman Budiman Soedjatmiko that the next hearing be held on Sept. 21 instead of Sept. 28, the same day Soeharto's graft case is scheduled to be heard.

On July 27, 1996, the PDI headquarters on Jl. Diponegoro in Central Jakarta was taken over by supporters of the government- backed chairman of PDI, Soerjadi, from loyalists of ousted PDI leader Megawati Soekarnoputri, who is currently the country's Vice President.

The takeover triggered mass unrest throughout Central Jakarta, leaving five people dead. Twenty-three others are still listed as missing. The Soeharto administration accused PRD of masterminding the unrest.

In its lawsuit, PRD named Soeharto the main defendant. It also named 11 military and police officers, and politicians as defendants.

They include former Armed Forces (ABRI) chief Gen. (ret) Feisal Tanjung; former Jakarta Military commander Lt. Gen. (ret) Sutiyoso, who is currently the Jakarta governor; former ABRI chief of sociopolitical affairs Lt. Gen. (ret) Syarwan Hamid; former National Police chief Gen. (ret) Dibyo Widodo; former minister of home affairs Lt. Gen. (ret) Moch. Yogie S. Memet; and former ABRI Intelligence Body chief Maj. Gen. (ret) Syamsir Siregar.

PRD is seeking Rp 5 billion in compensation from Soeharto for damage to the party's reputation, and Rp 200 million for damage to the party's headquarters and as compensation for its efforts to rehabilitate its image following the accusation.

PRD also demanded Soeharto and the other 11 defendants publish and broadcast an apology in the mass media, with the apology running for a week. (bby)