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Case of journalist's murder not dealt with in half-hearted trial of colonel Sri Roso Sudarmo

(AJI/IFEX) - AJI has called attention to the trial of former Bantul regent,
Sri Roso Sudarmo, on charges of bribery amounting to one billion rupiah
(approximately US$149,107). AJI regrets that the trial, held on Tuesday, 22
June 1999, in the Semarang Supreme Military Court, only dealt with the
charge of bribery. The trial did not touch upon the more serious case of the
13 August 1996 murder of Bernas journalist Fuad Muhammad Syafruddin (also
known as Udin).

It is strongly suspected that Udin was murdered because of his reports on
the bribery committed by Sri Roso and because of several other articles
critical of Sri Roso's actions. As the charges laid against Sri Roso did not
touch upon the murder of Udin, the impression of a cover up was given.
According to AJI, it is possible that the military covered up the case in
the interest of protecting one of its officers.

The impression that this was a half-hearted attempt to get to the bottom of
Udin's murder arises from a statement made by the Legal Head of the
IV/Diponegoro Military Command, Colonel Sukirno. Sukirno stated that there
was no connection between this case and Udin's murder, but rather the case
related to bribery involving the Dharmais foundation. The IV/Diponegoro
Military Commander, Major General Bibit Waluyo, tried to reduce this case to
one of "violation of the oath of service", based on the accusation that Sri
Roso attempted to bribe the Dharmais foundation, chaired by former President
Soeharto, to the tune of one billion rupiah. "And the military court will
establish whether the former Bantul regent attempted to bribe [the
foundation] or not," the Commander added (quoted in "Kompas" newspaper, on
22 June).

It is AJI's view that the course of justice was deliberately impeded, to
further obscure the case of Udin's murder. The government, in this instance
the military court, did not have the slightest intention of solving Udin's
murder; instead, it deliberately dispensed with a case that should have been
resolved quickly. According to AJI, it appears that the Indonesian courts
have not yet dispensed with the New Order's practices of misleading society,
even in this era of reform.

AJI appealed to the mass media and the Indonesia press community to stand as
one in solving Udin's murder.

Recommended Action

Send appeals to the general:
  • criticising the disingenuous trial of Sri Roso Sudarmo
  • requesting that the military court immediately investigate Udin's murder
    in conjunction with the charge of bribery

    Appeals To

    General Wiranto
    Commander of the Indonesian Army
    Markas Besar TNI
    Jalan Medan Merdeka Barat 13-14, Jakarta 10110
    Fax: +62 21 726 0306

    Please copy appeals to the source if possible.

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