Sat, 16 Dec 2000

Prolonged land dispute finishes with death

BEDUGUL, Bali (JP): A prolonged land dispute between local businessman Djohny Leopato and the provincial administration ended with the death of the businessman on Friday morning.

The land is located in Bedugul tourist resort in Tabanan regency, some 60 kilometers north of Denpasar. The Lila Graha hotel and 16 villas occupy the disputed 1.9 hectares, one of which had been used as a resort by first president Sukarno.

Reports said that the land belonged to Djohny's father, who loaned the property to the provincial administration in 1957 for 30 years. The administration, however, refused to return the land, and Djohny filed a lawsuit against the administration.

The Supreme Court heard the case and ruled on May 3, 2000 that the land belonged to Djohny.

In mid November, Djohny attempted to have the court's decision executed, but locals, wearing traditional dress and carrying sharp weapons, resisted the authorities.

Details of the murder are not clear.

Reports said that Djohny arrived at the resort in his Vitara van in the early hours of Friday and villagers intercepted and assaulted him.

Then police officers arrived and took the businessman to the police post in Candi Kuning.

Hundreds of residents gathered and besieged the police post where 40 officers were on duty.

Tabanan Police chief Supt. Rahardjo Subyakta was negotiating with local figures when Djohny reportedly tried to escape, said an officer, who asked not to be identified.

"The crowd mobbed him to death and set fire to his van," the officer said.

Apparently not a single police officer attempted to stop the mob.

The body of 55-year-old Djohny was taken to the Tabanan General Hospital at 4:30 a.m. local time. He had suffered severe wounds to the head and face.

At 10:30 a.m. the Tabanan regent, Adi Wiryatama, arrived and announced that execution of the court order was postponed indefinitely.

Hundreds of locals guarding the area applauded the announcement.

Statements concerning the incident were somewhat different with the facts.

It seems blood stains were found in the room where Djohny was held and some speculated that Djohny had been tortured in the room before he escaped, and that the killing had been planned.

National Police Chief Gen. Soerojo Bimantoro told reporters in Bali that he had instructed the Bali police to probe the case.

"Law must be enforced. There must have been people instigating the crowd to commit the crime. I have instructed the Bali Police chief to have those people arrested." (zen/sur)