Scandalous: A man reads the latest edition of Tempo magazine featuring a story on police corruption in Jakarta on Tuesday. Two men threw Molotov cocktails at the office of Indonesia’s top investigative news magazine, Tempo, its chief editor said Tuesday. The attack occurred a week after Tempo ran a story on the suspiciously large bank accounts of several high-ranking police officers. AP/Tatan Syuflana
Unidentified assailants attacked the head-quarters of Tempo magazine early Tuesday in an incident widely believed to be linked to the publication’s report last week on the bank accounts of high-ranking police officers.
Eye witnesses said two men hurled three Molotov cocktails at the magazine’s office on Jl. Proklamasi, Central Jakarta, an incident promptly dismissed by police as the work of a third party who exploited the situation and did not want to see them make peace over the report.
Tri Prianto, one of Tempo’s security guards, said the incident happened at around 2:40 a.m. when two men on a motorcycle lobbed the fire bombs at the office.
Only two cocktails exploded, sparking a small fire that was quickly extinguished. No injuries or damage to the building was reported following the incident.
The Central Jakarta Police questioned five witnesses but the motive behind the attack remains unknown.
“We are still investigating [the motive],” Central Jakarta Police chief Sr. Comr. Hamidin said.
The incident follows Tempo’s cover story last week on the “suspicious” bank accounts of at least seven high-ranking police officers allegedly containing billions of rupiah transferred from third parties.
Among the officers implicated in the article are Insp. Gen. Budi Gunawan, the head of internal affairs and a former adjutant to the president during the Megawati Soe-karnoputri administration; former Mobile Brigade chief Insp. Gen. Sylvanus Yulian Wenas and lecturer at the Police Leadership School Insp. Gen. Bambang Suparno. Former National Police chief detective Comr. Gen. Susno Duadji was also mentioned on the list.
Tempo chief editor Wahyu Mur-yadi refused to speculate whether the attack was related to the report, which is being investigated.
National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Edward Aritonang said the attack was intended to shine a bad light on the police.
“We deplore the incident. Whoever [committed the attack], and whatever their motives were, broke the law. We hope the public trusts us to investigate,” Edward said.
“Maybe they’re people who disagree with the process mediated by the Press Council. They want to make us look bad.”
Press Council chairman Bagir Manan condemned the attack as a threat to press freedom.
“It doesn’t make sense in this era of free speech and free press that this violence still happens,” he said as quoted by Antara news agency.
“This attack is not only a threat to Tempo, but also national press freedom,” he said.
Veteran lawyer and human rights activist Todung Mulya Lubis said the attack on Tempo magazine
was an act of terror targeting press freedom and corruption eradication.
“This is part of the ‘corruptors fight back’ campaign,” he told The Jakarta Post.
He said that in order to succeed, the war on corruption needs to be supported by press freedom, which allows the people to join forces.
Golkar Party lawmaker Setya Novanto said his party condemned the attack, saying that the police should investigate the case as soon as possible to avoid the issue being exploited to fuel conflict between the police and the weekly magazine.
The attack was not the first leveled against Tempo magazine, which was once shut down by the Soeharto regime for its critical reporting.
In 2003 it was embroiled in a legal battle with businessman Tomy Winata over its coverage of his Tanah Abang market renovation project.
Before the case was brought to court, his supporters staged a violent protest at the weekly’s office.
In 2005, Indo Pos daily was attacked by dozens of people claiming to be supporters of a gang leader.
The group objected to a report about thuggery at the Tanah Abang market. The incident injured two reporters. (rdf)