Wed, 23 Aug 2000

Sjahril accuses Marzuki over wrongful detention

JAKARTA (JP): Lawyers for Bank Indonesia governor Sjahril Sabirin accused on Tuesday Attorney General Marzuki Darusman of wrongfully detaining their client over his alleged role in the Rp 546 billion Bank Bali corruption scandal.

Defense lawyer Muhammad Assegaf told the South Jakarta District Court the detention of his client since June 21 was unwarranted.

"The entire time Pak Sjahril has been in detention, he has only been questioned twice. Where is the reason to detain him?" Assegaf asked the hearing, presided over by Judge Ahmad Rusmandani.

Marzuki, who was not present at court, has said he followed all existing legal procedures and that Sjahril was detained as a suspect to facilitate a fair and proper investigation.

His lawyer, Harry Hartono, said at the hearing that the attorney general was empowered by law to detain any suspect for investigation.

Sjahril was declared a suspect in the Bank Bali scandal and has been detained at the Attorney General's Office since his June arrest. His detention has since been extended twice.

His lawyers -- Assegaf, Abdul Hakim Garuda Nusantara and Sulistiyo -- have claimed the Attorney General's Office is not entitled to extend their client's detention.

They said earlier the office's decision to name Sjahril a suspect in the Bank Bali scam "had no legal basis at all".

"It's the responsibility of a district court, not the prosecutors, to decide on an extension. We ask the court to annul Sjahril's arrest status and the extension of the arrest period," the lawyers said.

Rusmandani decided to adjourn the hearing until Wednesday.

The Bank Bali scandal started when three private banks -- Bank BDNI, Bank Tiara and Bank Umum Nasional -- failed to repay Rp 904 billion debt to Bank Bali, a debt which remained outstanding until the three banks were closed down by the central bank in late 1998 due to poor financial records.

Bank Bali then asked the government for a loan disbursement as it had been put under a restructuring program.

After the signing of a controversial January 1999 cessie contract between the bank and private firm PT EGP, Bank Bali paid Rp 546 billion to PT EGP as commission to help recoup the funds.

Many people believe the money was largely used by the then ruling Golkar party to bankroll the then president B.J. Habibie's campaign for election.

A prosecutor recently demanded a one-and-a-half-year jail term for Djoko S. Tjandra, the primary defendant in the scandal.

The verdict in Djoko's case will be declared on Monday. (ylt)