Fri, 29 Sep 2000

Tommy to be jailed within days, says minister

JAKARTA (JP): The government said on Thursday that former president Soeharto's youngest son Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra would begin serving his jail term within days.

Tommy was sentenced by the Supreme Court to an 18-month jail term for corruption in a 1995 land exchange deal between wholesale firm PT Goro Batara Sakti and the State Logistics Agency (Bulog).

"The (Supreme Court) decision will be executed within one or two days by the Attorney General's office," Minister of Justice and Human Rights Yusril Ihza Mahendra told journalists prior to a Cabinet meeting on Thursday.

Meanwhile, head of the South Jakarta Prosecutor's Office Antasari Azhar said Tommy would be sent to jail on Monday, unless he filed an appeal for clemency with the President.

"The Supreme Court's verdict will be read at the South Jakarta District Court on Monday," Antasari said, explaining that his office had summoned Tommy to appear at the district court for the reading.

"And if he accepts the verdict and does not seek clemency, he will be sent directly to jail."

Antasari said that should Tommy file an appeal for clemency, he must also file a request for the postponement of the execution of the Supreme Court judgment.

"The sentence will be executed immediately, if he fails to file the appeal within 14 days," he said.

Separately, spokesman for the Attorney General's Office Yushar Yahya said on Thursday that the defendant had to submit a written statement that he agrees to the judgment issued by the Supreme Court, before requesting presidential clemency.

"He must agree in writing that he has committed a crime and that he is sorry. He has to sign that agreement ... only then can he request presidential clemency," Yushar told The Jakarta Post.

But Yusril said the request for a review of the case would not delay Tommy's arrest and detention.

"Even though he requests a review, that would not prevent his sentence (from being executed) because it is not a request for a pardon ... so he has to go in (to jail), there is no compromise," Yusril said.

Yusril said he had ordered the Jakarta office of his ministry and chief of the Cipinang penitentiary to make the necessary arrangements for Tommy's detention.

Y.A. Takasiliang, head of the Cipinang penitentiary, said separately that the penitentiary authorities have prepared a special cell for Tommy should he be sent to jail on Monday.

"For security reasons, Tommy will be placed in a special cell by himself," Takasiliang said in a televised interview on private television station SCTV.

The Supreme Court ruling overturned the verdicts of the South Jakarta District Court which acquitted Tommy and his business associate Ricardo Gelael of corruption charges linked to the land exchange deal.

Tommy and Ricardo were accused of jointly causing losses to the state of Rp 95.4 billion (US$ 11.2 million) through the land swap.

Both men were sentenced to 18 months and ordered to pay fines and compensation to the state.

Tommy was ordered to pay the state Rp 30.6 billion for losses incurred. The amount was higher than the amount asked by prosecutor Fachmi of Rp 28 billion. Ricardo was ordered to pay Rp 7.6 billion to the state for his part in the tainted deal.

Tommy's lawyers said they planned to call for the case to be reviewed, saying such a move would delay any arrest.

However, Attorney General Marzuki Darusman said later in the day that his office would execute the verdict.

The Supreme Court sent the verdict on Wednesday to the South Jakarta District Court, which has to send copies to the prosecutor and the defendant.

Marzuki said after the weekly Cabinet meeting that Tommy would be given three days to present himself to the jail.

"Today, a summons has been handed by the prosecutor's office to the concerned, and within three days, the Supreme Court verdict should be executed."

"If the concerned does not come on Monday, then we will go to Tommy's residence and then we will take him to jail," Marzuki said.

The charges arose from the construction of a Goro wholesale building on prime state land in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta, which the two men received from Bulog in exchange for a worthless swampy plot in Marunda, also in North Jakarta.

Tommy, like his five siblings, is a wealthy businessman. He will be the first member of the Soeharto family to be put behind bars. (byg/ylt/imn)