‘Tempo’ staff ‘interrogated
as if suspects’, lawyer

The four employees of Tempo magazine being questioned by police as witnesses in an attack were being treated as criminal suspects, the lawyer for the four says.

The employees were questioned about an incident in which two Molotov cocktails were thrown at the magazine’s office last week.

Many believe the attack was an attempt to silence the magazine after it published an article stating that many senior police officials had implausibly large bank accounts.

In the investigation into the suspicious bank accounts, National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Edward Aritonang said Friday that of 23 “suspicious” bank accounts belonging to high-ranking police
officers, only two had been declared problematic, according to analysis by the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (PPATK).

One of the two problematic bank accounts had been brought to court, he said. The owner of the bank account was identified as Comr. Martin Reno, who was stationed in Papua, Edward said, adding that he had been charged with involvement in illegal logging practices in 2005. He has reportedly been acquitted of all charges.

Edward declined to disclose more details, saying it was forbidden under money laundering  and public information disclosure laws.

Regarding an attack at the Tempo offices, concern had been raised that the police would try to make the incident look like the result of internal bickering at the magazine.

The four employees, Mulyana, Winarto, Tripriyantoro and Rambatri, were questioned as witnesses in the attack, which has been widely condemned as an attempt to suppress press freedom. The police have not named any suspects in the attack.

“Police investigators used the employees’ statements to turn them against one another. They also asked questions to build a conspiracy theory for the incident,” a lawyer for Tempo, Darwin Aritonang, told The Jakarta Post on Friday.

He said one of the employees, Mulyana, had received threats from unidentified persons after the incident. “Several mysterious persons have been looking for him at his residence,” he said.

He said the employees had been subjected to rigorous questioning since being summoned as witnesses on July 14. The police, he said, asked the witnesses to reenact their actions at the time of the incident.

President Susilo Bambang Yu-dhoyono has personally ordered the National Police to resolve a number of recent cases of thuggery, including one incident in which Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) activist Tama S. Langkun, who informed the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) about several police officers’ suspicious accounts, was assaulted by unknown assailants on a street in south Jakarta.

The police have not named any suspects in the case.

Toriq Hadad, Tempo’s news director, said that allegations that the Molotov cocktail attack had been orchestrated by employees of the magazine “didn’t make sense”.

He said the employees were the ones who extinguished the Molotov cocktails after they had been thrown.

Edward denied the allegation that the police had pressured the Tempo employees to extract confessions from them. He said to do this would amount to the police “committing suicide”.

“Please don’t insult our intelligence,” he said. “How can we do that when we the police are being scrutinized by the public?”

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