Wed, 24 Mar 1999

Students protest Nurdin acquittal

UJUNGPANDANG, South Sulawesi: Violence marred more student demonstrations over the acquittal of Golkar legislator and businessman Nurdin Halid of corruption charges here on Tuesday.

Thousands of students, grouped in the Makasar Student Solidarity Movement, blockaded the major thoroughfare Jl. Urip Sumoharjo and set a taxi on fire on their way to the district court.

The taxi belonged to the Hasanuddin cooperatives center run by one of Nurdin's brothers.

Charges against Nurdin were dropped on Monday after the court found no evidence that he embezzled Rp 115 billion (US$12 million) from farmers' compulsory savings during his tenure as manager of the cooperatives center between 1992 and 1994.

Another group of students were involved in a stone throwing incident with Nurdin supporters near the state-owned Institute of Teacher's Training on Jl. Pettarani.

Police fired warning shots to disperse the students.

Nine people possessing sharp weapon were arrested, seven of whom were released later in the afternoon.

Students demanded police clarification regarding severe measures used to disperse an overnight rally.

One student sustained wounds from a rubber bullet.

Ujungpandang Police chief Col. Yusuf Manggabarani defended his officers, saying their actions complied with standard procedures. (27)