Sat, 16 Dec 2000

Prosecutor ready for Tommy's capture

JAKARTA (JP): In support of the police's effort to capture fugitive Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra by the end of this year, the South Jakarta Prosecutor's Office will remain open over the upcoming holidays.

The head of the South Jakarta Prosecutor's Office, Antasari Azhar, said on Friday the decision was taken in response to a statement by National Police chief Gen. Surojo Bimantoro that his men would capture Tommy by the end of December.

"I take (Bimantoro's statement) as urging by the police to accomplish our task and capture Tommy.

"As a consequence, none of the prosecutors in this office, including myself, are allowed to take time off for the Christmas and Idul Fitri holidays should the police succeed in tracking down and arresting the convict before the end of the year," he said after a gathering to mark the breaking of the fast on Friday.

Earlier this week, National Police Headquarters established five special teams to locate Tommy, the youngest son of former president Soeharto, who has been in hiding for 42 days, since his appeal for a presidential pardon was rejected.

Tommy was found guilty of graft in a 1995 land swap deal which caused Rp 76.7 billion (US$8.07 million) in losses to the state. He was sentenced by the Supreme Court on Sept. 22 to serve 18 months in the Cipinang Penitentiary in East Jakarta.

The prosecutors and the police have come under fire for the escape of Tommy and their failure to apprehend him, one of the most recognizable men in the country.

Police have swept dozens of houses in the country in search of Tommy, but to no avail.

On Thursday evening, a radio station reported Tommy had been captured in Pasuruan, East Java, and was flown back to Jakarta that night. Police were seen waiting for Tommy at Soekarno-Hatta International Airport, but the report turned out to be a hoax.

Antasari said his office and the police have received hundreds of false reports about Tommy, all of which has served to keep them very busy.

"We always check any information we get, and although the misleading reports give us a headache we consider these a challenge to keep up with our work and find Tommy." (bby)