Fri, 03 Nov 2000

Teti refuses questioning without lawyers

JAKARTA (JP): Teti Nursetiati, wife of the main suspect in the Rp 35 billion State Logistics Agency (Bulog) scandal Alip Agung Suwondo, will never attend a hearing with the House of Representatives (DPR) over the scandal without her lawyers, lawyer Denny Azani B. Latief said on Thursday.

"Ibu Teti will give a statement to the House's special committee only if we are with her. It's her right," Denny told reporters after visiting Suwondo in the detention center at the Jakarta Police Headquarters.

Denny said that the special committee, which was established to investigate the scandal, had no legal basis to force his client to appear without the presence of her lawyers.

The committee canceled the planned questioning of Teti on Wednesday after demanding that she be questioned alone.

The committee, which assumed that Teti was trying to hide something to protect her husband and some other important people, said that they would force her to testify without her lawyers if she kept refusing to appear for questioning.

Suwondo, President Abdurrahman Wahid's former masseur, received a total of Rp 35 billion from Bulog's employee foundation Yanatera which was disbursed by Bulog's former deputy chief Sapuan.

Sapuan insisted that he had given the money to Suwondo after the latter claimed to have been acting on behalf of the President, who wanted Bulog to contribute to a humanitarian aid program in the strife-torn province of Aceh.

It was found later that Rp 10 billion of the amount was deposited into a bank by Teti.

Teti, who has returned the money, earlier told reporters that she only deposited the money given to her by her husband and did not know where the money had come from.

Denny said that the committee insisted on questioning Teti without her lawyers to lead her to give statements for their own purposes.

He added that he would send a letter to House Speaker Akbar Tandjung to protest against the committee's behavior.

Denny also said that the members of the special committee had their own political agenda in questioning his client.

"When we attended the hearing, members of the committee were arguing with each other. It was like watching Ketoprak Humor (a local TV comedy)," Denny said.

Suwondo's lawyer Indra Sahnun Lubis, who spoke to reporters after visiting his client at the City Police Headquarters, said that the committee was no longer acting to uphold the law or to find the truth.

"They are using the case to topple the head of the government," Indra said. (jaw)