Indonesian President Orders Arrest of Suharto's Son for Bomb Attacks
Indonesian President Abdurrahman Wahid said Friday he had ordered the arrest of the youngest son of former president Suharto in connection with a spate of lethal bombings in Jakarta.
But while police said they were seeking to question the son, "Tommy" Hutomo Mandala Putra, on the bombings, there were no immediate plans to arrest him.
"I have given instructions during yesterday's cabinet meeting to arrest Tommy Suharto," Wahid told a congregation at the mosque where he was performing Friday prayers.
Tommy, a wealthy 37-year-old businessman, is the second youngest of Suharto's six children.
"We have tried to reach Tommy .... we are going to ask him for information" on the bombing of the Jakarta Stock Exchange, police spokesman Superintendant Nur Usman told AFP.
But Usman repeated statements made earlier to AFP by his deputy, Saleh Saaf, that Tommy could not be arrested unless there was evidence linking him to the blast.
"We cannot pick him up just like that because there is not yet any initial evidence that could tie him with the bomb blast."
"We have to start at the scene of the crime, and use whatever we can collect there for leads."
Later, while visiting victims of Wednesday's bomb attack at Pertamina hospital, Wahid failed to clarify the status of the order.
"In the cabinet, we'll see whether this order (will) be carried out or not," Wahid replied in English, without elaborating.
Speculation has been rife that five recent bombings in the Indonesian capital were connected with the corruption trial of Tommy's father, a former army general who ruled the country with an iron fist for 32 years.
Journalists at Tommy's house, on the same street in downtown Jakarta as Suharto, said 20 of his black-clad body guards were posted outside.
Suharto's lawyer, Juan Felix Tampubolon, confirmed to AFX-Asia, an AFP financial affiliate, that son Tommy was in the city.
The country's chief economic minister, Rizal Ramli, also speaking at Pertamina hospital, blamed "old forces" -- meaning Suharto supporters -- for masterminding the bombings.
"I think the old forces. We refuse to allow our nation to be held hostage by people who are trying to maintain the status quo," Ramli said.
"If we do not further investigate this incident, the people will be angry and we should not underestimate the power of the people."
At the mosque Wahid also said he had ordered a second arrest.
"Today I have also instructed the Jakarta police chief to arrest Habib Ali Baagil (a Muslim group leader)," Wahid said.
He added the arrest orders did not necessarily mean anyone was guilty, "but we deem that there is sufficient reason to arrest."
"What for? To avoid further incidents such as the Jakarta Stock Exchange (blast)," he said.
"Pity our people because the victims are the little people," Wahid added.
Usman said Baagil had gone to the central Jakarta police station on Friday afternoon, and said he would be available for questioning "any time."
Wednesday's blast in the parking basement of the stock exchange building on the eve of the second session of Suharto's trial, left 10 dead and 27 injured and halted trading on the bourse.
On July 4, hours after Tommy was last questioned in connection with his father's case, a bomb exploded in the building housing the attorney general's office. No one was injured in that blast.
A second more powerful bomb was defused a day after, and police at the time questioned Tommy's bodyguards.
On August 1, a powerful plastic explosive bomb exploded at the residence of Philippine ambassador Leonides Caday. Two people were killed and 20, including Caday, were injured – JAKRTA (AFP)
© 2000 Al Bawaba (www.albawaba.com)
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