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Judge understands, a paster's role is to help the 'little' people

SiaR - December 12, 1997

Bekasi – The role of a paster is to help the "little" people, the poor and neglected. So it is natural for them to help those who are suffering. Thus said the presiding judge, Margono at the trial of Romo Sandyawan and his brother Benny Sumardi at the Bekasi state court, Monday (8/12).

During yesterdays trial, the prosecution was unable to present two jailed witnesses from the People's Democratic Party (PRD), Jacobus Eko Kurniawan and Suroso. The prosecution was only able to present two other witnesses, police Sargent Hamid and Sabenih, a driver from the Jakarta Social Institute.

According to a prosecution report to the court, they have been unable to present the two PRD witnesses because their status is unclear. "Both have yet to be processed", said the prosecutor. But in the end the judge asked the prosecution to present both witnesses next Monday (14/12).

During the hearing which continued for around two hours, Hamid from the police headquarters broke out into a cold sweat when answering the questions of the defence lawyer, Luhud Pangaribuan

From his answers it transpired that the witness had been monitoring the activities at the Indonesian Democratic Party headquarters on Jl. Diponegoro [Central Jakarta] for one month, between June 20 to July 26, 1997.

"In accordance with my superiors' instructions, I made notes of the negative things said by Budiman [Sujatmiko, chair of the PRD] and others" said Hamid. Hamid's statements just made Luhud angry and he continued to ask questions repeatedly.

"By negative things [I mean] for example that they were related to insulting the president, state officials, the armed forces and so on", he said. The daily reports he wrote were as many as 5-6 pages long.

When given a chance to ask a question, Romo Sandy posed a question which surprised the witness. Because of the "weight" of the question, the presiding judge cut it off and told the witness they did not have to answer.

"I want to ask, was the witness happy after they knew that the as a result of the witnesse's report many people were arrested and jailed. As a human being, not as a tool of the state, is the witness satisfied with this", said Romo Sandy – who was immediately cut off by the judge.

To the other witness, Sabenih, Romo Sandy only said that it appeared that the witness was "groggy" and frightened. Usually, according to Romo, Sabenih is a person who had often pointed out whoever had to be helped.

"One time, when we traveled to see some people down trodden by the military, Sabenih suggested that people like that must be helped. He said the helping [people like that] is in accordance with his religion, Islam", said Romo Sandy.

The court proceedings yesterday were not as tense as the first days of the hearing. The presiding judge occasionally made jokes which cause those present to laugh. For example, yesterday he said that each witness should get payment. But because the [the money in the] accounts were small, the court could not give [any money] to the witnesses. "Perhaps it was returned to Pak Mari'ie Muhammad*," he said.

* Mari'ie Muhamad is the finance minister responsible for the closure of 16 financially insoluble banks following the recent IMF aid package.

[Translated by James Balowski]