Fri, 03 Nov 2000

Suspects in bombing case lose suit against police

JAKARTA (JP): The South Jakarta District Court rejected on Thursday the lawsuit filed by 22 suspects in the September bombing at the Jakarta Stock Exchange (JSX) building which challenged the City Police's manner of arresting them.

Judge Soedarto said the police had lawfully arrested the suspects accordingly to Article 77 of the Criminal Code Procedures (KUHAP) on the district court's authority to try a case and to issue a verdict over the case.

"The arrest was lawful as it had been supported by initial evidence of their alleged involvement, as stipulated in Article 17 of KUHAP," Soedarto, who is also the court's spokesperson, said while reading the verdict.

"None of the witnesses have testified in court that the police had failed to show their warrants. The police also sent the copies of the warrants to the suspects' families within one day," he added.

However, wives of two of the JSX bombing suspects had testified in a previous court hearing that they only received copies of the police warrants four days after the arrest.

"The court decided to exclude the testimonies of the two suspects' wives as they had not been sworn in prior to giving their testimonies," Soedarto said while reading his legal argument.

Iwan Setiawan, a suspect in the bombing of the Malaysian Embassy last August, claimed in his confession that employees at the Krung Baru Motor car repair station in Ciganjur, South Jakarta, had planned the bombing of JSX building. This the judge said was sufficient initial evidence.

The 22 suspects were arrested by police on Sept. 23 at the Krung Baru Motor car repair shop, owned by Tengku Ismahmudi.

Tengku Ismahmudi and the other 21 suspects, represented by lawyers of the Legal Aid and Human Rights Association (PBHI) filed a lawsuit against the police with the district court on Oct. 23.

PBHI lawyer, Johnson Panjaitan, had earlier asked the court to free the men because their arrest was based on feeble initial evidence.

Johnson said all of his 22 clients were victims of wrongful arrest by the police.

He demanded that the police pay Rp 1 million in compensation for each suspect, issue a public apology and restore their names.

Johnson cited Article 17 of KUHAP which stipulates that a person could only be arrested if there was sufficient initial evidence to support the accusation of a criminal offense.

The 22 men, including the owner and the workers of the car repair shop, many of whom were Acehnese, had rejected the police's accusation that the JSX bombing was part of a campaign by the Free Aceh Movement (GAM).

Police have also linked the bombing with the grenade attack at the Malaysian embassy in Jakarta last August.

All of the suspects have denied any role in the bombings, while GAM has also rejected the allegation of its link to the bombings.

Police have also arrested two members of the Indonesian Military in connection with the bombing. Their cases are being handled separately by a joint police-military investigation team.

Lawyer of the City Police Sr. Insp. Barnabas Iman had earlier told the court that the confession of one of the suspects had led to the arrest of the other suspects, including Tengku Ismahmudi, who is accused of being the mastermind behind the bomb attack.

Only three of the 22 suspects are currently under police custody. The other 19 suspects were temporarily freed on Oct. 6.

Hendardi, PBHI coordinator, told journalists after Thursday's hearing that he would not take any legal action against the court's ruling.

"We could have predicted the verdict from the beginning as the judge did not substantially examine the initial evidence or our witnesses' testimonies.

"We have to comply with the court's ruling even though the court followed the same approach as that taken by the New Order government," he said. (01)