Monday, 9 February 2009

DPR Cites ‘Conspiracy’ in Medan

February 9, 2009 The Jakarta Globe

Nurfika Osman & Febriamy Hutapea

DPR Cites ‘Conspiracy’ in Medan

The trashing of the North Sumatra Provincial Council in Medan and the death of its top lawmaker from an apparent heart attack was part of a “conspiracy” — possibly involving senior police officers — a fact-finding team from the House of Representatives said over the weekend.

Abdul Aziz Angkat, 51, a father of four from the Golkar Party, died on Tuesday after he was mobbed during a violent protest by some 2,000 angry protesters demanding the establishment of a breakaway province to be named Tapanuli.

“The incident did not just occur all of a sudden, but was an orchestrated event organized through long preparation and shows that the brains behind the scheme [to form the breakaway province] are based in Jakarta and Medan,” said Maiyasayak Johan, the head of the investigation team.

National Police Chief Gen. Bambang Hendarso Danuri and other senior police officers are scheduled to appear at the House today to answer questions about the organizers behind the mob’s violence and about the alleged illegal logging conspiracy.

Maiyasayak, also deputy chairman of House Commission III overseeing security, said that the investigation team had collected a number of important documents that indicated who may have been behind the plot.

Highly placed sources told the Jakarta Globe that the money was most likely sourced from those with vested interests in the illegal logging industry, who stood to benefit from the creation of the new province encompassing southeast North Sumatra.

The same source said that those who organized the protest possibly planned the violence knowing that it would cost North Sumatra Police Chief Insp. Gen. Nanan Sukarna his job. Nanan made a name for himself combating illegal logging in West Kalimantan Province from 2004 to 2006, before his transfer to North Sumatra after two years as National Police chief expert on social and political affairs.

Maiyasayak said that based on their preliminary investigation, however, Nanan and Medan Police Chief Sr. Comr. Aton Suhartono, who also lost his job, had been unjustly removed from their positions as they had issued proper instructions to their forces to prevent the rioting.

“But there was someone within [the police] at a certain level who intervened with the instructions and is linked to the conspiracy,” he said.

Bambang dismissed the pair on Friday, citing “neglect.”

The comments on Sunday came as the number of people arrested in connection with the violent protest, predominantly university students, climbed to 31, with police revealing how much the protestors were paid to participate.

National Police spokesman Abubakar Nataprawira said on Sunday that five university
students and a teacher had been named as suspects over the weekend.

“The sixth suspect is Torang Lumban Tobing, a junior high school teacher,” Abubakar said. “He received Rp 750,000 [$65] and distributed the money to protesters.”

Sisingamangaraja University student Christian Manurung, 25, received Rp 600,000, he said.

Of that money, he distributed Rp 25,000 to four other students, all of whom had been named as

Abubakar said that they were charged with two criminal code violations, namely inciting violence and disorder offenses. Inciting violence carries a minimum sentence of five years in prison. He refused to comment on the source of the money but confirmed the matter was under investigation.

“We have so far questioned 71 people and the case is still being developed,” Abubakar said, adding that it was likely that more people would be arrested.

So far, three of the suspects are legislative candidates from the National People’s Concern Party, or PPRN, while another four are understood to be PPRN partisans. One of the suspects, Chandra Panggabean, is also the coordinator for the establishment of the Tapanuli province.

In the wake of the violent protest, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono ordered a comprehensive investigation into the death, spokesman Andi Mallarangeng said.

“Nobody is immune to the law in this country, including law enforcers,” Andi said. “A complete investigation must be undertaken to examine the death.”

On Friday, the president also called for a moratorium on the creation of regional administration units.

Indonesia is currently composed of 33 provinces, with 398 districts and 93 municipalities. The country saw the creation of seven new provinces, 173 new districts and 35 new municipalities between 1999 and the end of 2008.