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Tommy denies links to spate of bombings JAKARTA - Former president Soeharto's youngest son, Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra, denied on Saturday any involvement in a spate of recent bombings, including the powerful explosion on Wednesday at the Jakarta Stock Exchange (JSX) building.

"I am very upset with Gus Dur's statement," Tommy told reporters after being questioned at Jakarta Police headquarters for his alleged role in theseries of bombings that have caused considerable concern among office workers in the business district and residents in central Jakarta. He was referring to President Abdurrahman Wahid, who a day earlier publicly announced that he had ordered the arrest of the younger Soeharto.

Tommy spoke briefly with reporters, saying he had appeared on his own initiative, then got hurriedly into his car under heavy escort by police and private bodyguards. Unlike many other crime suspects, Tommy was questioned at the air-conditioned office of Jakarta Police chief Insp. Gen. Nurfaizi and was there for almost two and a half hours. The Wednesday explosion at the JSX building left at least 11 dead and dozens injured. The President said on Friday that he had issued an order during the Cabinet meeting on Thursday to arrest Tommy saying that there was plenty ofevidence against Tommy in relation to the bombing. Gus Dur said that he had also ordered the arrest of Habib Ali Baagil, a leader of the Islam Defenders Front (FPI) for his alleged roles in the bombing. As with Tommy, Baagil also questioned Gus Dur's remarks implicating him as someone behind the series of bombings. Baagil and many legal practitioners and political observers wanted the President to amplify his statements from Friday. Baagil has not yet appeared at Jakarta Police headquarters. Arriving at police headquarters at about 9:45 a.m. in a KIA minivan, Tommy, attired in light brown batik, smiled to the flock of newsmen. "It's better for me to come down here myself than being looked for by thepolice," he said briefly and hastily went inside.

Jakarta Police criminal investigation chief Sen. Supt. Harry Montolalu, who also attended the questioning, said the police had asked Tommy to come to the headquarters to clarify his alleged role in the bombing. Harry said that Tommy had not been a suspect in the case even though Gus Dur had ordered the police to arrest him. "He's not a suspect and you can say that (Tommy) was questioned as a witness if you want, but he was only asked for clarification," Harry said. "Even though the President ordered (us) to arrest (Tommy), the term 'arrest' still should be carried out in an investigation," Harry said, adding that so far the police had found no proof to charge Tommy in the bombings.

Separately, National Police chief Gen. Rusdihardjo said that Gus Dur's order meant that the President had a 'strong wish' for the bombing cases tobe solved. Rusdihardjo was quoted by Antara news agency as saying that if Gur Dur mentioned names of people who should be arrested, it meant that the police should conduct a more intensive investigation of the persons.

"It doesn't mean that we should conduct an arrest instantly. If we have strong evidence, then we'll make an arrest," Rusdihardjo said in Port Moresby, while accompanying Vice President Megawati Soekarnoputri on an official visit to Papua New Guinea on Saturday. Harry also explained that his men had questioned the previous owner of a Toyota sedan, which was allegedly used to place the bomb at the P2 parking level of the JSX building.

"He sold the car two years ago but he doesn't have any information about the buyer. That's why we're still tracing it," Harry said. Harry also said that the bomb was fused with a timer. A police forensics team said earlier that the blast was caused by a bomb containing over one kilogram of TNT (trinitrotoluene).

Harry said that police have yet to find a man who was seen leaving the car in a hurry after parking the vehicle on the P2 parking level, the lowest level of the 34-story JSX building. A security guard, Budyono, had tried to push the car that had been parkedimproperly but failed, Harry said.

"When the security officer left to get the man who had just left, the carblew up," Harry said, adding that Budyono was severely injured and was still being treated. Harry said that the police had yet to see the video tape from a surveillance camera that filmed the garage prior to the blast.

The blast at 3:17 p.m. destroyed 81 cars parked on P2 and P1 levels and damaged 100 others. The trading at the exchange was hastily suspended and according to the schedule, trading would resume on Monday.

Posted in General @ 17 September 2000 16:35 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink

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