Wed, 29 Nov 2000

Rusdihardjo reveals Bulog scam to House

JAKARTA (JP): Former National Police chief Gen. Rusdihardjo testified before the House of Representatives' Special Committee on Tuesday revealing significant information about the persons behind the Rp 35 billion (US$3.7 million) scandal at the National Logistics Agency (Bulog).

Bachtiar Chamsyah, chairman of the special committee investigating the scandal, declined to reveal Rusdihardjo's statements, but suggested that the testimony was more than enough for the House to draw a conclusion.

"Rusdihardjo's explanation was very important. It revealed those involved in the scandal.

"His testimony has encouraged the special committee to question main suspect Suwondo and Gus Dur (President Abdurrahman Wahid's nickname)," he said after the hearing.

"I don't say that Gus Dur was involved in the case, but with Rusdihardjo's explanation, 80 percent of the investigation has been completed."

He said that legally he could not reveal the former police chief's testimony to the public until the investigation was completed.

"I cannot reveal the evidence obtained during the hearing, including Rusdihardjo's testimony," Bachtiar said.

Sources close to the special committee's investigation, however, told The Jakarta Post that Rusdihardjo testified that Siti Farikha, a Semarang-based businesswoman, had received a Rp 5 billion check from the President, contradicting her previous testimony.

"Rusdihardjo also testified that he had been asked by Gus Dur to create a scenario as if Siti Farikha had received the funds from her business partner Aris Junaidi, an apparent attempt to conceal the President's role in the scandal," said one source.

Siti returned the money to the Police soon after the scandal made headlines in April.

Meanwhile, another source said that Rusdihardjo had been asked to remain cautious in investigating the scandal so that the case would not shake the government.

Aris admitted to having received a Rp 5 billion check from the President's masseur Suwondo, but said he had no idea if the money was part of the Rp 35 billion taken from Bulog's employees foundation, Yanatera.

Bachtiar said his committee would question Suwondo at the city police detention facility and Gus Dur at the State Palace early in January to seek their responses to Rusdihardjo's testimony.

"The investigation of the scandal is expected to be completed in January," he said, while adding that Suwondo and Gus Dur could not be questioned in December as the House would be in recess.


Meanwhile, calls for an investigation into an early October meeting at the Borobudur Hotel between the President and convicted felon, Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra, had gained support from a number of legislators.

Syamsul Muarif, chairman of the Golkar Party, asked Tommy's lawyers to release information on the alleged deal between the President and Tommy to the House, saying that the information would be sufficient reason to set up a special committee to investigate the deal.

"Nudirman Munir, one of Tommy's lawyers, confirmed recently that he had information on the alleged deal. He said that he was ready to reveal the results of the meeting to the legislature.

Tjahyo Kumolo, deputy secretary of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan), said his faction was still giving the police until the end of December to capture the fugitive.

Tommy, the youngest son of former president Soeharto, escaped arresting officers just hours before their arrival at his residence in Jakarta to transport him to the penitentiary where he was to begin serving an 18 month prison sentence for fraud.

"If the police fail to meet the deadline, our faction will ask the police to probe the Borobudur meeting," he said.

Meanwhile, the Crescent Star Party (PBB) faction called on the House on Monday to set up a special committee to investigate the Borobudur meeting, where the President allegedly made a deal with Tommy to circumvent his jail sentence. (rms/jun)