Wed, 29 Nov 2000

Prosecutor Nulis: I will not summon Gus Dur

JAKARTA (JP): Prosecutor Nulis Sembiring dismissed on Tuesday the possibility of President Abdurrahman Wahid testifying in the State Logistics Agency graft trial.

"I refuse to summon witness K.H. Abdurrahman Wahid. I believe he has much more important matters to attend to than testifying in this case," Nulis said during the hearing at the South Jakarta District Court presided over by judge Lalu Mariyun.

The panel of judges had given Nulis two weeks to deliver a court summons to the President to testify in the case.

The sole defendant in the trial is former State Logistics Agency (Bulog) deputy chief Sapuan, who has claimed that it was at the behest of the President that he disbursed Rp 35 billion in Bulog funds to the President's masseur, Suwondo.

"I have not summoned Abdurrahman Wahid ... I will not summon him," Nulis said.

In response, defense lawyer Trimedya Panjaitan told the court that everyone was aware that presidents were busy people.

"But we also know that Gus Dur has a high regard for the supremacy of the law ... he said so himself several times. The prosecutor should have at least delivered the summons," Trimedya said, referring to the President by his nickname.

"If the witness failed to show up, he would have his reasons which would be written out and delivered to the court."

Judge Lalu said the President's respect for the law was reflected in the fact that he had agreed to be questioned by Jakarta Police detectives as a witness in the case.

"I therefore request the prosecutor summon the witness," Lalu said.

Nulis, however, would not back down, reiterating that he would not summon Abdurrahman.

"I already said I will not summon him since there is already enough evidence to convict Sapuan. I do not need the testimony of the witness. Besides, remember that this witness did not go to the Jakarta Police to be questioned.

"Police detectives went to his residence to question him. If the panel of judges still insists on having me summon Gus Dur, then the court must give me this decision in writing," Nulis said.

Before adjourning the trial until next Tuesday, Lalu ordered the prosecutor to summon the President.

After the hearing, Nulis said he would not comply with the order. He also denied he was afraid to summon the President.

"It is done ... it is done. I will not summon the President. I do not need to," Nulis said.

When asked if his refusal was a violation of a court order, he said it was the right of the prosecutor to summon, or not to summon, a witness to testify in court.

According to a police dossier, Abdurrahman told Jakarta Police chief of detectives Sr. Supt. Harry Montolalu and former city police chief of detectives Brig. Gen. Alex Bambang Riatmodjo that during a Jan. 7 meeting, he and Sapuan discussed the possibility of using some of Bulog's nonbudgetary funds.

"Yes, I met Sapuan, but I have no idea who really arranged that meeting (at the presidential palace on Jan. 7 this year)," Abdurrahman told the officers during questioning on June 23.

The President said Sapuan met with him to tell him that Bulog had Rp 370 billion in nonbudgetary funds.

"He said Rp 370 billion. I asked him whether some could be used for humanitarian aid in Aceh. He said yes, as long as I issued a presidential decree," Abdurrahman said according to the dossier.

"I asked him why. Sapuan told me that the decree would act as a permit for the concerned minister (Bulog chief Yusuf Kalla). So I told him there was no need then, since it would take too much time," the President said during questioning.

Abdurrahman told the two officers he had "no idea whatsoever" about the Rp 35 billion taken from Bulog's employee-owned Yanatera foundation, and denied ever ordering Suwondo to obtain the money from Sapuan.

"Suwondo is nothing. He was that man I used to give whatever money I had on me," Abdurrahman said as quoted in the dossier. (ylt)