Fri, 30 Nov 2001

Tommy begins Day 1 in captivity

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The frivolity following the arrest of Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra persisted on Thursday as authorities patted each other's backs and government officials glorified the belated capture as if a salvation to the nation's ills.

Despite the star-studded list of visitors to the Jakarta police headquarters and a media barrage, it is still unclear whether Tommy, 24 hours after his capture, had even tasted the four small walls and thin mattress of detention cell B5 prepared for him.

What is certain is that the youngest son of former president Soeharto spent almost all of Thursday being questioned.

There were scant details on the interrogation, but it is known that three teams of detectives questioned him. One for the murder of Supreme Court Justice M. Syaffiudin Kartasasmita, another for illegal possession of weapons and a third in connection to a series of bombing cases in the capital. The three groups talked with him for over six hours starting at about 12:30 p.m.

There had also been an earlier marathon interrogation which started the previous night and lasted till about 5 a.m.

Despite the bungled legal proceedings over Tommy's corruption case, Jakarta Police detective's chief Snr Comm. Adang Rochjana seemed confident that they could make the charges stick on the cases relating to premeditated murder and illegal arms possession.

Adang claimed Tommy was being investigated under Articles 340 and 341 in the murder case, along with Emergency Law No. 12/1951 for the weapons. The maximum penalty is death.

There was no explanation by the police on whether or not they would pursue the charge of contempt of court after fleeing following his verdict in a graft case.

Police on Thursday shrugged off continued skepticism over the arrest, refusing to let it ruin their red-letter day which saw the 26 policemen involved in the arrest given promotions, and National Police Chief Gen. Surujo Bimantoro handing over his post to Gen Da'i Bachtiar.

Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Sofjan Jacoeb also insisted that Tommy was not being given special privileges, noting that he had rejected a request for a transfer to the Salemba penitentiary in Central Jakarta or Cipinang penitentiary in East Jakarta.

"There was such a request last night (from Tommy), but I maintained that there would be no special treatment," he said.

Sofjan also said that Tommy's female friend, Lani Banjarani, would likely be named a suspect for aiding Tommy's hiding.

During his first night in captivity several witnesses said Tommy rested inside the detention center office of deputy chief Adj. Comr. Hardiman and not his cell.

While being questioned, Tommy was accompanied by lawyer Elza Syarief. As he was taken for interrogation Tommy seemed relaxed, smirking as he donned a white T-shirt.

Any feelings of isolation during his year-long hideout were certainly cured in the last two days.

Apart from the constant barrage of reporters, legislators quickly got into the act as about 30 members of the House's Commission II visited to congratulate the police and get a peek at the 39-year-old in jail.

Earlier another group of legislators from Commission I also visited.

In the evening, Tommy's wife Ardhia Pramesti Regita Cahyani, popularly known as Tata, visited him for the second time. "I miss mas Tommy. I haven't been with him in a long time," she remarked. She was accompanied by Tommy's sister Siti Hediati Harjadi.

Tata's arrival immediately sparked another media frenzy with several pieces of police furniture falling victim to the crush of reporters.

Elsewhere government officials lauded the accomplishment, while neglecting the fact that it took over a year to catch one of the most famous faces in the country.

Coordinating Minister for the Economy Dorodjatun Kuntjoro- Jakti claimed that "this will provide certainty and lead to investor confidence, because law is being enforced."

Foreign Minister Hassan Wirayuda in Australia was quoted as saying that it was also proof that the government was intent on upholding justice.

People's Consultative Assembly Speaker Amien Rais however was more sober in his remarks: "It was nothing surprising, nothing exceptional."

"What the public will await now is the follow-up legal process," he said as quoted by Antara during a visit to Cirebon, West Java.