Thu, 20 Nov 2003

Tommy, Bob Hasan granted remissions

Muninggar Sri Saraswati, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Multiple-offense convict Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra, the youngest son of former president Soeharto, will be among some 35,000 inmates receiving remission in conjunction with the upcoming Idul Fitri holiday, it was announced Wednesday.

His father's golfing buddy, Mohamad "Bob" Hasan, who was sentenced to six years in jail for corruption, will also be granted remission.

Both Tommy and Bob are serving jail terms in Batu prison, one of four penitentiaries on Nusakambangan island, off the Central Java coast near the town of Cilacap.

The Director General of Penitentiaries at the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights, Adi Sujatno, told reporters that Tommy would receive a one-and-a-half month reduction in his prison term while Bob would be granted a two-month reduction.

According to Presidential Decree No. 174/1999 on remission, special remission is granted on certain holidays, such as Idul Fitri and Christmas. An inmate who has spent one year in jail normally gets a 15-day reduction while those who have spent two or three years in jail get one month's remission.

Inmates who are in the fourth and fifth year of their sentences normally get one and a half month's reduction while those who have spent six years or more get two month's remission.

Tommy was jailed in July 2002 for masterminding the assassination of Supreme Court Justice Syafiuddin Kartasasmita, illegal possession of firearms and flight from justice.

The government granted him one month's remission on the Independence Day. The remission was opposed by many, including Chief Justice Bagir Manan, because, according to the law, Tommy was not yet eligible to receive it.

According to Presidential Decree No 174/1999 on remission, only inmates -- not suspects or defendants -- who have spent six months in prison are eligible to have their jail terms cut by one month.

However, Justice Minister Yusril Ihza Mahendra argued that Tommy had already been in detention for eight months prior to and during his trial.

Bob, who was also granted one month's remission last Friday, had his sentence reduced by five months due to good behavior. He has been in prison since February of last year.

Rudy Satrio, a criminal law expert from the University of Indonesia, said the remission granted to Tommy was not in line with the law, as he should get one month remission at the most.

"The government must not favor rich inmates. It is common that a penitentiary gives remission to rich inmates if he or she builds something or donates something to the penitentiary as this is considered as proof of good conduct," he said.

For this year's Idul Fitri, the government will grant special remission to some 35,000 out of a total of some 84,000 inmates nationwide.

Penitentiary Director General Adi said that remission would be granted to inmates with good conduct who were not serving life sentences or who were awaiting execution, such as those who received such sentences for the Bali bombings.

"Those who are being punished for violating prison rules or have attempted to escape will not be granted remission," he added.