Sat, 10 Jul 2004

Prosecutors demand 10 years for 11 Priok suspects

Sari P. Setiogi, Jakarta

Prosecutors before the Tandjung Priok human rights trials demanded 10-year prison terms for Capt. Sutrisno Mascung and his 10 former subordinates on Friday, for their involvement in the deaths of some 32 civilians during the 1984 incident.

Ten years is the minimum prison sentence for defendants that are proven guilty of gross human rights violations.

Sutrisno was commander of Platoon III of the Air Defense Artillery Battalion under the North Jakarta Military Command when the bloody incident took place on Sept. 12, 1984.

Prosecutor Darmono said the 11 troopers had options other than opening fire on the protesters.

"They could have beaten them instead of opening fire on civilians," he said.

While Darmono was reading out the sentence demand, presiding judge Andi Samsan Ngaro suddenly interrupted the session to ask visitors carrying guns and knives to leave the court room.

Soon after Andi made the appeal, some 30 armed soldiers left the room, frowning all the while.

The Tanjung Priok shooting was triggered by a demonstration involving dozens of people in Tanjung Priok, North Jakarta, against the Pancasila ideology and the government's family planning program.

On Sept. 7, 1984, a military soldier entered a musholla (prayer room) near the Tanjung Priok port without taking off his shoes, which the people deemed as tantamount to desecrating the holy place.

Witnesses said the soldier smeared gutter water on the walls as well, prompting local people to burn the soldier's motorcycle. Soldiers retaliated by arresting four people.

Five days later, at around midnight, Amir Biki, a local Muslim activist, led some 1,500 fellow civilians on a march to the North Jakarta Military Command to pressure the authorities to free the four detainees.

Prior to that, Biki had telephoned the North Jakarta Military Command (the call was received by Sriyanto), saying that he would attack the compound if his four friends were not released by 11 p.m.

Sriyanto decided to deploy troops to face the protesters. Eyewitnesses said that soldiers opened fire, killing at least 32 protesters, including Biki. Many other demonstrators were detained and allegedly tortured in connection with the demonstration.

Prosecutors earlier demanded five-year prison terms for Maj. Gen. (ret.) Pranowo and 10 years for Maj. Gen. Sriyanto Muntrasan. Both were Sutrisno's superiors.

Defendants in the Tanjung Priok case

1. Maj. Gen. Sriyanto former commander of the North Jakarta Military Command, now the commander of the Army's Special Forces (Kopassus)

2. Maj. Gen. (ret) Pranowo former Jakarta Military commander

3. Maj. Gen. (ret) Rudolf Butar Butar former North Jakarta Military commander

4. Capt. Sutrisno Mascung former commander of the Air Defense Artillery Battalion

5. Chief Corp. Asrori former member of the Jakarta Military Command

6. Chief Corp. Siswoyo idem

7. Sgt. Maj. Abdul Halim idem

8. Second Lt. Zulfata idem

9. Chief Sgt. Sumitro idem

10. Chief Sgt. Sofyan Hadi idem

11. Chief Corp. Prayogi idem

12. Chief Corp. Winarko idem

13. Chief Corp. Idrus idem

14. Second Sgt. Muhson idem