Mon, 14 Feb 2000

Soldiers face probe over blast

JAKARTA (JP): Jakarta Military Command spokesman Lt. Col. Djazairi Nachrowi said on Saturday that strict measures would be taken against any of its members implicated in the grenade blast in the Boker red-light district, Pasar Rebo, East Jakarta, early on Friday morning.

"We'll take stern measures against them, at the very least disciplinary sanctions, if we find that their presence at the red-light district was for having a 'good time'," he told The Jakarta Post.

Military internal regulations stipulate a three-day to 21-day jail term for violations of disciplinary regulations. Physical punishment, such as running around a large field in the full glare of the sun, sometime follow the jail term.

Violators are jailed either in the military police's prison or in their respective military unit's cell.

Nachrowi denied earlier press reports that two soldiers injured in the blast had run away from Gatot Subroto Army Hospital in Central Jakarta immediately after they were admitted to the hospital.

"The soldiers did not run away. They left the hospital after light first aid treatment since they only suffered slight injuries," he said.

He was commenting on an article in local daily here on Saturday alleging that the two soldiers had run away from the hospital.

But Nachrowi admitted that his command had still no idea on the whereabouts of the two men.

Separately, an officer at the Jakarta Military Command denied that First Pvt. Dandy Saprail, 36, one of the victims of the grenade blast, was a member of the command's main regiment (Rindam Jaya).

"We have checked that name, but it does not exist," Col. Irianto, the commander of the regiment told the Post on Saturday.

He speculated that the city police had made a mistake when identifying the name.

"If the soldier is a member of my regiment, he should be another person," he said.

Irianto said his aides were still trying to find out whether a member of the regiment was a victim of the blast.

"Once we succeed in identifying the soldier, we will hand him over to the city military police," he said.

He said the presence of military members in gambling or prostitution dens was intolerable.

"The norms of the Army prohibit them from visiting those places," he said.

Irianto added that any soldiers violating the norms would face disciplinary sanctions, either from their respective military units or the military police.

However, people often observe soldiers, either in uniform or plainclothes, visiting prostitution or gambling dens seeking "protection fees" from the management of those places.

The powerful blast on Friday injured at least 12 people, including five Army and police officers.

A police source earlier identified the five injured officers as First Pvt. Dandy Saprail, believed to be member of Rindam Jaya; First Sgt. Armadi from Group IV of the Army's Special Force (Kopassus); Fajar, whose rank is unknown, also from Kopassus; and Second Sgt. Hendor Purwanto and First Sgt. Widodo, both from the Jakarta Police.

The blast occurred after two unidentified people on a motorcycle threw a grenade at a small bar in the district.

Police are still investigating the type of grenade and the motive behind the blast. (asa)