Wed, 15 Mar 2000

Situation still under control, police chief tells House

JAKARTA (JP): National Police chief Lt. Gen. Rusdihardjo acknowledged on Tuesday that counterfeit cases and gun-related crime were of concern, but argued the overall situation remained satisfactory.

"The entire situation is still conducive for the people and the government to carry out their routine activities despite the existing security disturbances and public disorder," he told a hearing with members of the House of Representatives.

He said he ordered his personnel nationwide to conduct raids on suspected distributors of counterfeit banknotes.

The Jakarta Police confiscated Rp 5 billion and US$16,000 in counterfeit banknotes this year. The figure is particularly shocking as Bank Indonesia estimated there was Rp 6 billion in counterfeit notes in circulation last year.

Rusdihardjo told the legislators that a group of 10 people arrested in January this year along with counterfeit Rp 50,000 notes totaling Rp 194.8 million confessed to police that they already distributed some Rp 22 billion in fake notes in the market, Antara reported.

In response to legislators' questions about the rising use of firearms in crimes, the three-star general gave a roundabout answer.

"There's a strong indication that the guns (used by the criminals) are those belonging to certain people who did not get the licenses from the National Police," he said.

Rusdihardjo also told the House that the Jakarta Police made "significant progress" in their investigation of the March 5 attempted murder of People's Consultative Assembly Deputy Speaker Matori Abdul Djalil.

Jakarta Police chief Maj. Gen. Nurfaizi, who accompanied Rusdihardjo in the hearing, said later that South Jakarta Police detectives were making an in-depth examination of evidence.

"But we still need time to complete the entire report as we have to double-check the suspect's testimony," he said.

On Monday, a senior city police source close to the investigation said that he and his team "are still reading through the booklets, notebooks and other evidence found in the homes of Muhammad Ichwan, alias Zulfikar, in Petamburan, Central Jakarta, and Assadullah in Bekasi.

"They could be the link to the motive behind the attempted murder of Matori".

On Thursday evening, the City Police Mobile Detectives (Resmob) arrested a suspect, Achmad Tazul Arifin, alias Sabar, 33, for the attempted murder. Police say Sabar was the accomplice who worked with Matori's attacker, Sarmo, alias Tarmo. Tarmo was mobbed to death shortly after the attack for not paying for an ojek (motorcycle taxi) ride.

Police are searching for Assadullah, an ex-employee of the now defunct ministry of social affairs, in Slawi and Surakarta in Central Java. Assadullah has been declared a suspect in the case, following testimonies by Sabar, and a witness identified as Abdul Adzis, a Koran recital teacher at the Nurul Jihad mosque in Kedoya, West Jakarta.

Police officers say that in Assadullah and Ichwan's houses they have found books on warfare studies, notes on how to make a bomb twice as powerful as TNT (the flammable toxic compound trinitrotoluene) and a textbook on rifle and gun designs with notes on how to make them.

"Who is teaching them all this, we don't know," the source said.

Sabar said last week he joined the radical Angkatan Mujahiddin Islam Nusantara (AMIN) youth organization, based in the Caringin Maseng subdistrict of Cijeruk, Bogor, in April 1999.

"I joined AMIN in late March 1999, and was involved in the 1999 BCA bank robbery on April 15. Then I ran off to Java, before returning in July 1999 to the capital," Sabar said.

Several Muslim organizations have voiced their concerns about the "ambiguous link" between AMIN and the attempted murder of Matori.

Separately, the head of the morgue at Cipto Mangunkusumo General Hospital, Mardiono, said on Tuesday the body of Tarmo was in an advanced state of decomposition.

He said the police had not given permission for the burial of the corpse. (bsr/ylt/06)