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Gangland style murders add to security risks JAKARTA - Those and other mafia-style hits have raised fears that assassins for hire are spreading in Indonesia, adding to the sense of lawlessness that has hurt efforts to promote foreign investment and strengthen the rule of law in the world's fourth most populous country.
Police say the July 12 killing of Budiarto Angsono, president of the PT Asaba computer firm, along with his bodyguard, was likely the work of hitmen well planned and well carried out.
"The hitmen studied the movements and habits of their targets," said Col. Prasetyo, a Jakarta police spokesman. "They were well trained."
Though no official figures are available on murder rates, there have been at least 14 gangland-style murders since January, according to media reports. Many of the victims were allegedly involved in business disputes.
In one case, a Chinese-Indonesian businessman and his wife were killed by an assailant who doused them with acid in downtown Jakarta on April 30.
A rise in violent crime is a likely response to weak law enforcement, an economy still struggling to recover from the Asian financial crisis and an inability to rein in corruption following the fall of dictator Suharto in 1998, analysts say. Weapons are readily available on the black market.
"It's quite easy to hire hitmen here, easier still to arm them," said Muhammad Mustofa, the head of the Criminology Department at the University of Indonesia. "But, it's not big business yet."
Indonesian police insist there are no organized networks of hitmen in the country. Guns for hire, they say, are mostly working on their own.
"But there is no shortage of people here with experience of violence to do this," said James Castle, a business consultant in Indonesia.
Police said Angsono had been under threat from a former employee and had hired a bodyguard from Indonesia's elite military forces. His son, too, had received death threats.
Since Suharto's fall, the government's attempts to clean up a notoriously corrupt judicial system have been largely unsuccessful prompting some to take the law into their own hands.
Indonesia's most famous case of hired assassins, involving Suharto's playboy son Tommy, cost $100,000, divided between two hitmen, according to prosecutors.
Tommy is serving a 15-year jail term for ordering the murder of Supreme Court judge Syafiuddin Kartasasmita, who had sentenced him to 18 months in jail for his part in a multimillion-dollar land scam.
Because Tommy is among the country's richest men and the circumstances of his murder case far from ordinary, other hits are likely a lot cheaper.
Many companies in Indonesia say they are coping with the risks and boosting security, especially after Oct. 12 nightclub blasts on the island of Bali which killed 202 people, mostly foreign tourists.
While most of the murders have involved Indonesians, this month's killing of Australian sand company executive Bernard Moore on the western province of Riau showed foreigners are not immune.
That's bad news for the government's goal of encouraging foreign investment, which remains stagnant.



Posted in Crime @ 26 July 2003 00:02 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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