Fri, 15 Dec 2000

Soemarjono gets two years in jail for counterfeiting

SURABAYA (JP): The Surabaya District Court sentenced on Thursday retired Army colonel Soemarjono, the main defendant in a Rp 4.28 billion (US$455,000) counterfeit money case, to two years in jail, two years lighter than the prosecutors had demanded.

Practically, the defendant will serve only 17 months in jail as he has been detained for seven months.

The defendant, manager of the Indonesian Thomas Cup (Badminton) team in Kuala Lumpur in May, did not react when presiding judge Hirman Purwanakusuma read the verdict.

However, he stood and congratulated the defense lawyers, the judges and the prosecutors, saying he was dissatisfied and innocent.

The defendant rushed to a car, escorted by the police, before reporters could question him.

The judges said the defendant was proven guilty of violating Paragraph 1 of Article 55 of the Criminal Code on currency counterfeiting.

The maximum sentence for the offense is 15 years in jail.

"The defendant has been proven guilty of being involved in the planning, production and distribution of the counterfeit rupiah notes," presiding judge Hirman said.

The judge said two boxes containing fake rupiah notes valued at Rp 4.2 billion were taken by two men identified as Miyun Hadi Suwito and Slamet Hardjo Sumitro from the defendant's residence on Jl. Melati 3, Pesanggrahan, South Jakarta.

"The two men handed over the boxes to Mohammad Si'in to do the finishing touches on the fake notes. Si'in owns a printing company," Hirman said.

At previous hearings, Soemarjono said a friend identified as Budiono introduced him to Miyun. Miyun then introduced Soemarjono to Slamet Hardjo, who is also a retired Army colonel. However, Soemarjono has denied that the three were involved in counterfeiting.

The prosecutors have not succeeded in bringing Budiono to court.

The judges also refused the withdrawal of the statements of the three key witnesses made before the police. Miyun, Slamet Hardjo and another witness Muhammad Multi had requested that their statements made before the police not be used in court.

"After studying the testimonies of eight other witnesses, the withdrawal of the statements by these three witnesses, made before the police, is legally unacceptable. The other witnesses have said that the defendant had played a significant role in the production and distribution of the fake notes," Judge Hirman said.

"The damning factor is that the defendant had tarnished the government's image during the financial crisis, while the mitigating factor is that the defendant had dedicated his life to the nation as an Army officer. He has also brought the Indonesian Thomas Cup team to victory in Kuala Lumpur, before the counterfeit money was circulated," said the judge.

Prosecutor Donny Kadnezar and lead defense lawyer K.G. Widjaja said they would consider appealing. (nur/sur)