Wed, 23 Feb 2000

Spectators stunned by Agus' court appearance

JAKARTA (JP): The presence of Army second Lt. Agus Isrok in the West Jakarta District Court on Monday stunned onlookers, who clearly did not expect an appearance by the son of an active four-star Army general.

Reporters present at the court failed to witness the arrival of Agus, who came to the court to testify in the drug trial of Donny Hendrian.

Escorted by several men who appeared to be military personnel, Agus -- a member of the Army's Special Force (Kopassus) -- made an entrance into the courtroom shortly after his named was called to testify as a witness.

Those following the trial believed Agus would eventually answer the court's summons to testify as a witness in the trial, but they did not expect him to appear any earlier than Monday of next week.

The belief that Agus would testify was reinforced by recent remarks by Agus' father, Gen. Subagyo Hadisiswoyo, a former Kopassus commander, who said he would not interfere in the drug case in which his son has also been named a suspect.

Trial followers based their assumption on when Agus would appear on the fact that prosecutor Amirullah insisted on using Agus' alias, Deky Setiawan, on the summons rather than his given name.

The court had sent three summonses to Deky's address in Bandung, West Java. Moreover, Subagyo said his son would testify only when he had received a summons bearing his given name of Agus Isrok Mi'raj.

Thus the astonishment at the appearance of Agus at the trial of Donny, who was arrested with Agus last August in a hotel room in West Jakarta.

Those in attendance at the courtroom on Monday were taken aback by the midday appearance of several members of the military police outside the courthouse.

Despite the unusual presence of the military police personnel, trial watchers still doubted this presaged a later appearance by Agus.

But rumors that Agus would appear to testify spread quickly, and a number of television crews not seen at previous sessions of Donny's trial soon arrived.

At about 12:45 p.m., dozens of print and broadcast journalists chased after a black Cherokee jeep, which was being escorted by two other cars. Agus, it turned out, was not in any of the vehicles.

The journalists then entered the courtroom, where Zainal Abidin, the operational manager of the hotel in which Agus and Donny were arrested, was giving his testimony as a witness in the case.

Prosecutors and lawyers also appeared to be taken aback by the unexpected appearance of Agus in the courtroom on Monday. When it became evident Agus would be testifying, what could be interpreted as looks of shock seemed to register on the faces of the lawyers and judges.

But at 1:05 p.m., amid much excitement among those gathered in the crowded courtroom, the prosecutor called Agus to the witness stand. Photographers and TV crews rose from their seats and rushed to the door to get a glimpse of Agus, who was attired in a white long-sleeve shirt, a black tie and black pants. Agus' convoy of escorts held the journalists at bay as they led the way through the courtroom.

As journalists tussled for seats near the front of the room, the judges ordered them back.

Presiding judge Hadi Lelana then ordered all those in the courtroom to turn off their cellular phones.

A man who appeared to be a member of the Army, carrying a small tape recorder, was ordered by Hadi to leave the courtroom after his cell phone began ringing.

The man, together with a number of other people who also appeared to be from the military, were attempting to prevent people from approaching Agus.

Some minutes later, a court official entered and placed microphones in front of the judges, prosecutors, defenders and Agus.

"Now you can move back .... You can hear the proceedings clearly with the help of the microphones," Hadi told the journalists, who complied and took up places near the rear of the room.

After the hearing ended at approximately 2:30 p.m., journalists struggled to reach Agus, who left the courtroom in the escort of the same men who saw him into the room over an hour earlier.

Agus was rushed to a Suzuki minivan and speedily driven away from the court. (asa)