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Megawati supporter alleged 'suspect' in illegal meeting

Agence France Presse - February 12, 1997

Jakarta – A supporter of Indonesia's ousted opposition leader Megawati Sukarnoputri has been named as a suspect for allegedly organizing an illegal meeting at her home, a daily reported here Wednesday.

Haryanto Taslam, deputy secretary general of the Indonesian Democracy Party (PDI), was fingered in the affair which erupted after a January 10 gathering at Megawati's home. South Jakarta police authorities have already summoned Megawati and her husband Taufik Kiemas for questioning about the event, held to celebrate the PDI's 24th anniversary. The Indonesian attorney general's office said last month that the gathering violated a law requiring political activities to be authorised by officials.

Megawati's chief lawyer Robert Tambunan said Taslam had been named as a suspect for organizing the event, attended by hundreds of people including some Western diplomats. "I think it is the police's prerogative to name Haryanto as a suspect," Tambunan said Tuesday in Denpasar, Bali, as quoted by the Merdeka daily.

Taslam told AFP Wednesday by telephone from Denpasar that he had not yet received official notification that he had become a suspect in the affair, but was ready to answer any summons.

"We have done nothing wrong by celebrating our anniversary," Taslam said.

South Jakarta police declined to comment on Wednesday. Megawati and her husband have so far ignored the police summons saying there was no suspect in the case.

Armed forces chief General Feisal Tanjung, who attended the official PDI celebration staged by new leader Suryadi in Central Sulawesi, warned the authorities would "take action" against Megawati if she staged any PDI anniversary event. Megawati was ousted as PDI leader in June 1996 by a government-backed party faction which then installed Suryadi as leader.

A violent take over the PDI headquarters in Jakarta by Suryadi's rebel party faction backed by the military sparked riots on July 27 which left five dead and 149 injured. Megawati was questioned three times last year – twice by police and once by the attorney general's office – as a witness in subversion cases brought against a union leader and a pro-democracy activist arrested shortly after the riots. Indonesian authorities have brought 124 Megawati supporters to trial for the July violence and in November sentenced most to just over four months in jail for disobeying police orders to disperse.

However, none of Suryadi's supporters, who attacked the party headquarters, have faced criminal charges, drawing local and international criticism.