Sat, 04 Nov 2000

Prosecutors fail to jail Tommy

JAKARTA (JP): The threat to jail former president Soeharto's youngest son Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra by force should he fail to surrender himself proved to be empty on Friday as Tommy was declared "lost" by prosecutors, after he successfully evaded receiving the presidential decree rejecting his plea for pardon.

Attorney General Marzuki Darusman, however, said that he believed Tommy had not fled the country and would meet the deadline on Monday.

"An arrest warrant has been issued, but we are not assuming that he's escaped. We still believe that he is in Jakarta.

"If he fails to show up on Monday, we'll get him through a police manhunt," Marzuki told The Jakarta Post.

Similarly, one of Tommy's defense lawyers Nudirman Munir, who later came to Tommy's residence on Jl. Rasamala III/24 in Central Jakarta, gave assurances that his client was still in Jakarta but failed to disclose Tommy's whereabouts.

"I assure you that Tommy has not left Jakarta, but I don't know where he is exactly," he told journalists.

Unlike Tommy, his business associate Ricardo Gelael surrendered to the South Jakarta Prosecutor's Office on Friday evening and was brought to the Cipinang penitentiary in East Jakarta at 9:05 p.m.

"I will comply with the law and am ready to serve the sentence. I don't want to hassle my family for what I've done," he told journalists before leaving for the prosecutor's office.

"I have said goodbye to my family and to my mother, who is right now suffering a heart attack," he said softly.

A team from the prosecutor's office, accompanied by a platoon from the police's Mobile Brigade, came to pick up Tommy at his residence on Friday afternoon as the 2 p.m. deadline for Tommy to surrender had expired.

"We prosecutors will wait here, outside his house until midnight... what can we say? I don't think, Tommy is at his (Menteng) residence (in Central Jakarta)," prosecutor Fahmi told reporters on Friday night.

Head of the South Jakarta Prosecutor's Office Antasari Azhar said he would give Tommy three more days to surrender so that the judgment could be executed, while prosecutors and the police would also keep on searching.

"We will comb Jakarta and even Surakarta (in Central Java) to find Tommy until Monday. If he still fails to show up, we will name him a fugitive," Antasari told the Post in the evening.

Antasari said he would seek out Tommy's favorite haunts in the Greater Jakarta area and in Surakarta where the Soeharto family has a residence, as well as looking for him in the Astana Giri Bangun cemetery, where his mother is buried.

President Abdurrahman Wahid refused on Thursday to pardon Tommy and Ricardo, both major shareholders of wholesaler PT Goro Batara Sakti, who were found guilty of causing Rp 76.7 billion (US$8.2 million) in losses to the state.

Abdurrahman, better known as Gus Dur, issued a decree rejecting the appeal and ordering Tommy to serve the 18-month sentence handed down by the Supreme Court, which also required him to repay some Rp 30.7 billion of state losses and to pay a Rp 10 million fine.

Ricardo was ordered to repay about Rp 7 billion, but he has already paid Rp 11 billion instead as an expression of his remorse.

Both Tommy and Ricardo were convicted of swapping a tract of swampy land for prime real estate in 1995 belonging to the State Logistics Agency (Bulog) in order to build a Goro superstore.

Tommy and Ricardo were each sentenced to 18 months in jail last September, when the Supreme Court overturned two lower court verdicts which were issued last year.

Tommy appealed for a presidential pardon on Oct. 3 which forced a stay of execution of the sentence. He also filed an appeal for a judicial review of the case with the South Jakarta District Court.

Antasari had earlier given both Tommy and Ricardo a deadline of Friday noon, but extended it for a few more hours as the two had yet to receive copies of the presidential decree.

Separately, Nudirman told reporters that what the prosecutors were doing was a violation of the law.

He said that Tommy must receive the original copy of the presidential decree in person before being incarcerated according to Article 11 of the Clemency Law No. 3/1950.

"My client has not received it. How can prosecutors do this? This is clearly against the law," Nudirman said.

Meanwhile, a prison van from the South Jakarta Prosecutor's Office, registration number B 9928 HQ, stood near Tommy's father's and sister's residences on Jl. Cendana and Jl. Yusuf Adiwinata respectively, both of which were still heavily guarded by the Central Jakarta Police on Friday night.

Sources said that there was no one to stop Tommy from leaving his residence at about 1 p.m. on Friday as there were no orders requiring this from either the Central Jakarta Police, the Jakarta Police or the South Jakarta Prosecutor's Office.

"It was so silly. Everybody's making noises since Thursday that on Friday Tommy will be arrested. But, when he left his home on Friday afternoon, nobody could stop him. He knew that if he didn't get the decree in his hand, nobody could arrest him," a police source said.

Another source outside the police said that on Friday afternoon, Tommy met with Nudirman on Jl. Cendana, and discussed the matter with him.

"To the best of my knowledge, Tommy had said that he was tired and wanted to surrender to the South Jakarta Prosecutor's Office. But, Nudirman told him that it wasn't necessary as Tommy had not yet personally received the decree," the source said. (01/bby/byg/ylt)