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Probe on PDI HQs attack to take 3 months

Jakarta Post - February 16, 2000

Jakarta – National Police chief Lt. Gen. Rusdihardjo vowed on Tuesday that the police would take up to three months, to complete an investigation into the July 27, 1996 bloody takeover of the Indonesian Democratic Party (PDI) headquarters.

"We have started the investigation and we hope to finish it in three months," Rusdihardjo said in a hearing with the House of Representatives Commission I for defense and security, foreign affairs, information, and legal affairs.

The police, he said, were now collecting new evidence in connection with the bloody incident at the party's headquarters on Jl. Diponegoro, Central Jakarta, on July 27, 1996. The takeover was conducted by the party's splinter group led by Soerjadi, which was backed by elements in the former Indonesian Armed Forces (ABRI).

The takeover triggered the sympathy of residents throughout the city, many becoming involved in massive unrest in support of then party chairwoman Megawati Soekarnoputri. The unrest resulted in the deaths of at least five people and injury to 149 others. Meanwhile, 23 people caught in the midst of the incident are still missing.

Rusdihardjo's statement was made in response to comments made by legislator A. Effendy Choirie of the National Awakening Party (PKB), who asked the police chief to give a deadline for completion of the investigation. "The police must be able resolve this case, and not follow the steps of the former police chief, who only spoke and never showed any results," Effendy told reporters after the hearing.

Separately, the National Police on Tuesday morning called a closed meeting of National Police detectives and intelligence officers, to decide which civilians and police officers would be summoned.

The meeting was led by assistant to National Police chief for intelligence affairs, Maj. Gen. Guntur Sumastopo. "We should have the complete list by Wednesday latest. So far, it includes the names of (former Central Jakarta police chief) Col. Aboebakar Nataprawira, (former Jakarta Police chief) Maj. Gen. Hamami Nata, (former National Police chief) Gen. Dibyo Widodo and (former PDI secretary-general) Buttu R. Hutapea," Col. Saleh Saaf of the National Police information department told The Jakarta Post.

Saleh refused to comment on whether the list would include the names of former city military commander, Governor Sutiyoso, a retired lieutenant general who opted for civilian status, and former ABRI chief of social and political affairs Lt. Syarwan Hamid, who is a retired lieutenant general. "We'll see later... let's not discuss them now," Saleh said.

Following the takeover, Megawati established the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI Perjuangan) and won last year's General Elections with 34 percent of total votes.

The demand to reopen the 27 July case was triggered by President Abdurrahman Wahid's statement on former minister of defense and security/Indonesian Armed Forces commander Gen. (ret.) Feisal Tanjung, whom he accused as the one responsible for the takeover. Earlier, Abdurrahman said that Feisal tried "to eliminate" him as chairman of the Nahdlatul Ulama Muslim organization, and Megawati as the party chairwoman. Feisal has denied the accusations, but admitted that TNI had financed the PDI congress in Medan, North Sumatra, two months before the takeover.

The 1996 government-sponsored PDI congress in the North Sumatra capital of Medan named Soerjadi as the party's chairman, replacing Megawati, who was said to be incapable of solving the party's internal problems.

This led to the July 27 takeover of PDI headquarters, which was still occupied by Megawati and her supporters. Like the ongoing investigation of the 27 July incident, legislator Effendy said that deadlines were also needed for ongoing investigations into the murders of labor activist Marsinah in Surabaya, East Java, and the Yogyakarta-based journalist, Muhammad Syafruddin alias Udin.