Fri, 03 Nov 2000

Tommy denied pardon

JAKARTA (JP): President Abdurrahman Wahid refused on Thursday to pardon former president Soeharto's youngest son Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra, and officials said Tommy would be taken by force if he refused to begin serving his 18-month jail term for corruption on Friday.

"Today a presidential decree was signed... the President has declined the request for a pardon which was submitted by Hutomo Mandala Putra and Ricardo Gelael," presidential spokesman Wimar Witoelar said during a media conference.

Wimar said the execution of the 18-month jail term handed down in September by the Supreme Court would be carried out by the South Jakarta Prosecutor's Office.

When asked when Tommy would be sent to jail, Wimar said: "That depends on the attorney general... (but) on behalf of the President, I can say that Tommy Soeharto is going to jail."

The head of the South Jakarta Prosecutor's Office, Antasari Azhar, said later in the day a copy of the decree had been received by his office.

"Today (Thursday), the prosecutor's office will send a summons to Tommy for the execution (of his sentence) tomorrow (Friday) after Friday prayer," Antasari said.

If Tommy does not surrender to authorities he will be taken "by force, in a professional way", Antasari said without elaborating.

One of Tommy's lawyers, Nudirman Munir, accused the authorities of ignoring legal procedures in their rush to send his client to jail, a move he said was premature.

"We might file a request with the Supreme Court for another delay of the execution (of the sentence)," Nudirman said.

However, the secretary-general of the Supreme Court, Pranowo, dismissed this possibility, saying the President's decision was final.

Tommy and his business partner Ricardo were each sentenced to 18 months in jail in late September, when the Supreme Court overturned two lower court verdicts and found them guilty of causing Rp 76.7 billion in losses to the state.

They were found guilty of swapping a tract of swampy land for prime real estate belonging to the State Logistics Agency in order to build a superstore.

Both men have remained free since the Supreme Court's ruling, but while Ricardo sought only a presidential pardon, Tommy asked for both a presidential pardon and a judicial review of the case.

He had been given until Thursday to surrender to prosecutors and be jailed pending the outcome of the review.

But Tommy failed to show up at the prosecutor's office because he was awaiting a decision on his pardon plea, his lawyer Erman Umar said.

According to the law, a request for a presidential pardon forces a stay of execution of a sentence until a decision is issued.

Earlier, Minister of Justice and Human Rights Yusril Ihza Mahendra stated his office had recommended that Abdurrahman formally decline Tommy clemency, saying he saw no reason for the President to grant a pardon.

He also criticized Tommy for failing to show remorse for his actions, appealing both for Abdurrahman's mercy and for a judicial review of his case.

"This is a corruption case that must be responded to properly because the concerned party does not regret his actions, evidenced by his appeal for clemency while simultaneously appealing for a (judicial) review," he said.

Meanwhile, an official at Cipinang Penitentiary told The Jakarta Post on Thursday afternoon staff members there had prepared a cell for Tommy several days ago.

If jailed, Tommy will be the first member of the former first family to be put behind bars, a development made possible by his father's stepping down from the presidency following mass demonstrations in May 1998.

The Supreme Court's director for criminal cases, Djoko Sarwoko, said Tommy and Ricardo's clemency appeals were given special attention, leapfrogging 47 other appeals waiting to be heard.

"The Supreme Court made the two pleas (by Hutomo and Ricardo) a top priority because they involve a special corruption case," Djoko said. (bby/byg/ylt)