Wed, 30 Apr 2003

`Tempo' journalists testify to violence

M. Taufiqurrahman, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Tempo magazine journalists Ahmad Taufik and Karaniya Dharmasaputra testified on Tuesday that defendant David Tjioe, alias A. Miauw, an aide to tycoon Tomy Winata, had physically attacked the weekly's chief editor, Bambang Harymurti, at the Central Jakarta Police station.

Taufik, who failed to turn up at last week's trial due to concerns regarding security, said that David and hundreds of Tomy's supporters had also intimidated Tempo journalists soon after they arrived at the weekly's office on Jl. Proklamasi, Central Jakarta.

"When they first arrived, I heard them shout, `Burn the office of a provocative media', something they threatened over and over again if we refused to be taken to the police station for an `investigation'," he told the Central Jakarta District Court.

Tuesday's trial heard the testimonies of Taufik and fellow journalist Karaniya against David. The defendant was charged with violating Article 335 of the Criminal Code on encouraging others to perpetrate acts of violence, which carries a maximum jail sentence of one year.

David, along with hundreds of Tomy's supporters, stormed the weekly's office in early March to demand the retraction of an article implicating their boss with the fire that ravaged the Tanah Abang textile market in Central Jakarta earlier.

Taufik said that the initiative to take those persons responsible for the article to the police station came from David, and not from the policemen present at the weekly's office.

Taufik further added that the assault and acts of intimidation were conducted also by David and a number of Tomy's men inside the Central Jakarta police station.

"Inside the police compound, David physically attacked Bambang three times, hitting him in his stomach and kicking his left leg," he said, and that David ended by caressing Bambang's head while threatening him verbally.

Meanwhile, Karaniya said in his testimony that David threatened to kill him after he objected to the way David treated Bambang.

He said that one of Tomy's men beat him from behind after he objected to the assault on his chief editor.

Both Taufik and Karaniya regretted that the police had apparently turned a blind eye to the assault and even appeared to side with Tomy's minions.

"After we had gone through a series of assault and acts of intimidation during the `interrogation', it was the police who forced us to sign a written agreement with David. Also, when a rumor about us being kidnapped by Tomy's men started to spread, it was the police who forced us to meet with reporters to deny the rumors," he said.

Taufik claimed the police also ordered him to calm down Tomy's supporters by meeting the angry crowd in front of the weekly's office.

Separately, a trial scheduled on Tuesday for Hidayat Lukman, alias Teddy Uban, who is being charged with violating the same article, was delayed because the defendant claimed to be ill.

Presiding Judge Sunaryo announced that the hearing would resume next Tuesday.