Wed, 22 Nov 2000

Sutiyoso named suspect in July 27 incident

JAKARTA (JP): Governor Sutiyoso has been named suspect in the 1996 forcible takeover of the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) head office, giving a boost to the reform movement which was largely responsible for the country's first really democratic elections last year.

The disclosure that Sutiyoso, who was the Jakarta Military Commander when the violence occurred, is a suspect was made by a member of the joint military and police investigating team, Supt. Jeldi, after questioning former attorney general Singgih at the National Police Headquarters.

"(Sutiyoso) is a suspect," Jeldi told reporters when asked if the retired lieutenant general was held responsible for the attack, known as the July 27 incident.

Sutiyoso and other former military and police officers in charge of security under the authoritarian regime of former president Soeharto have long been suspected of involvement by many observers, but Jeldi's remark was the first official acknowledgement.

Sutiyoso, who has been questioned several times by the joint team, has put the blame for the attack on the now ailing former ruler.

At least five people were killed and 23 others are reportedly still missing in the attack, which triggered massive unrest in Central Jakarta. Many have claimed that the numbers were higher.

Jeldi said that a ministerial meeting on politics and security affairs held two days before the incident concluded that a free speech forum at the party's headquarters on Jl. Diponegoro, Central Jakarta had to be stopped on grounds that it disturbed public order.

The meeting proposed a peaceful procedure, Jeldi said, but the violent takeover occurred instead.

"That means that the party who carried out the order did something wrong," Jeldi said.

Jeldi did not elaborate further and left hastily.

Former Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Hamami Nata was formally declared a suspect in the case on Oct. 9.

When contacted for further confirmation on Tuesday evening, Director of General Crime at the National Police headquarters, Brig. Gen. Alex Bambang Riatmodjo, denied that Sutiyoso had been named suspect on the case.

"I haven't heard about it," Alex said.

Several former civilian and military officials admitted during questioning that it was concluded in the ministerial meeting that the forum held by supporters of then PDI leader Megawati Soekarnoputri should be stopped through a persuasive way.

Singgih who was questioned on Tuesday echoed the statement.

Subordinates, during the time of the takeover, of the then coordinating minister for political affairs and security, the late Soesilo Soedarman, were former home affairs minister Yogie S. Memet, former foreign minister Ali Alatas, former justice minister Oetojo Oesman, former defense minister Gen. (ret.) Edi Sudradjat, former armed forces chief Gen. (ret.) Feisal Tanjung, former National Police chief Gen. (ret.) Banurusman Astrosemitro and Singgih.

Former education and culture minister Wardiman Djojonegoro is scheduled to be questioned on Wednesday and former home affairs minister Yogie will be questioned on Friday.

Separately, city spokesman Muhayat refused to comment on the matter, saying that until Tuesday evening Sutiyoso had not received any formal notification of his status in the case.

"Until now, the governor has yet to receive any formal letter on that, but we have heard about it," Muhayat said. (dja/jaw)