Prosecution Seeks 12 Years For Tholut Over Aceh Camp

The Jakarta Globe
Prosecution Seeks 12 Years For Tholut Over Aceh Camp

Prosecutors on Thursday demanded that key terror suspect Abu Tholut serve 12 years in jail for his alleged role in the establishment of a militant training camp in Aceh where attacks on foreigners and state leaders were supposedly plotted.

Prosecutor Bambang Suharyadi told the West Jakarta District Court there was sufficient proof that Tholut, 50, had been helping to set up the paramilitary camp at the request of hard-line cleric Abu Bakar Bashir, and procured firearms for the group.

Bashir was in June jailed for 15 years for terrorism offenses.

“We recommend the defendant be jailed for a maximum of 12 years, less the time he spent in detention. There are mitigating factors: he was well-behaved during the course of the trial and he has admitted his involvement,” Bambang said.

However, the prosecutor added that there were also aggravating factors.

The defendant has been convicted of terrorism before, he said, and the crime he was now on trial for “endangered people’s lives and spread terror.”

According to the prosecution, the defendant was invited by Bashir for a meeting at the Jakarta office of the radical Jamaah Ansharut Tauhid in February last year. He was informed that paramilitary training was under way and shown video footage of the related activities.

Tholut was then allegedly handed Rp 70 million ($8,000) by Haris Amir Falah, the head of JAT’s Jakarta branch, for delivery to the camp in Aceh.

Nurlan, an attorney for Tholut, said his client did not deserve such a lengthy jail term, arguing that the defendant was not directly involved in establishing the militant camp.

Tholut only surveyed the location for the camp, said Nurlan, a lawyer from Palu Muslim Defenders Team (TPM).

“We are going to read our [full] defense statement next week,” the lawyer said outside court.

Tholut, also known as Mustofa, was arrested in Kudus, Central Java, in December 2010.

He had become one of Indonesia’s most-wanted fugitives after master bomb-makers Noordin M. Top and Dulmatin were gunned down in police raids in 2009 and 2010.

Tholut is one of more than 120 alleged members of the group Tanzim Al Qaeda in Aceh to have been captured or killed since the camp was raided early last year.

Police believe Tholut was a key leader of terror group Jemaah Islamiyah, as he was said to have spent years in Afghanistan and the Philippines waging jihad.

He was convicted in 2004 for illegal possession of firearms and explosives and was sentenced to seven years in prison. But he was released on parole in 2007.

Cineplex 21 Admits Cosy Links To Film Importers

The Jakarta Globe

Cineplex 21 has acknowledged it is affiliated with three film importers previously banned by the government from bringing foreign films into the country, but the Indonesian film giant is rejecting accusations that they are monopolizing the industry.

Camila Internusa Film and Satrya Perkasa Esthetika Film, which used to import Hollywood blockbusters, were banned from doing so by the Finance Ministry in March pending payment of Rp 22 billion ($2.6 million) in back taxes and interest.

A resolution of the controversy over import duties and royalties in June absolved Camila and Satrya’s back taxes issues.

A third distributor, Amero Mitra Film, paid Rp 9 billion in back taxes in May and has resumed importation.

In an exclusive interview with the Jakarta Globe on Thursday, Anitio, a director of Cineplex 21, acknowledged that all three importers were affiliated with the Indonesian cinema giant.

“Legally, the owners of Cineplex 21 and the importers have no relation, but we have always acknowledged we are close to them and we admitted that to KPPU in 2002,” he said, referring to the Business Competition Supervisory Commission.

“We also have a different operational system,” he added.

The third distributor, Omega Film, is also not legally related to Cineplex 21, Anitio said.

But he admitted that it was established by Ajay Fulwani, a nephew of Harris Lesmana, one of Group 21’s primary owners.

Still, he said this did not constitute a monopoly.

“It needs to be understood that we established our business in 1990, that is how we became dominant in the industry,” Anitio said. “We have been investigated four times by KPPU but they have found no monopoly practices in our business.”

Tadjudin Noer Said, a commissioner at KPPU, acknowledged that the cinema industry was dominated by one player, but he explained that as long as it did not control prices, it was not considered a monopoly.

With regard to the back taxes, Anitio said it was not true that they did not want to pay. “We do not have the ability to pay those taxes,” he said.

He argued that the penalty and interest imposed on them was not rational and he disagreed with the government’s calculation of what they owed.

As a director of Cineplex 21, Anitio said he was glad the foreign film dispute had been resolved because the cinema industry must recover from the financial loss incurred during the five-month foreign film drought.

“Although we were still able to air independent films during this time, the foreign film distribution boycott had caused a 60 percent drop in the local cinema industry’s income,” he said.

Sellers of  iPads to Challenge Consumer Law Requiring Indonesian Manuals

The Jakarta Globe

Two men on trial for selling Apple iPads without an accompanying Indonesian-language manual are planning to challenge the law requiring its inclusion, their lawyer said on Wednesday.

Attorney Virza Roy Izal said his clients, Randy Lester Samu and Dian Yudha Negara, who face up to five years in prison, will file for a judicial review of the Consumer Protection Law’s stipulation that an Indonesian manual be included.

In a case that has attracted widespread media attention, Randy and Dian were arrested on Nov. 24 by policemen posing as buyers who claimed to be responding to an advertisement on the Kaskus, an online forum.

Prosecutor Endang has accused Randy and Dian of violating a particular clause of the consumer law. The pair intend to challenge this particular article in their judicial review request to the Constitutional Court.

“This can be seen as a violation of human rights, especially the right to carry out transactions,” Virza said.

“This poses problems for sellers of secondhand gadgets. It means that used gadgets will also need an Indonesian instruction manual when the buyers should be free to decide if they want or need one.”

Since its release in April last year, the iPad has become one of Apple’s most popular products worldwide. D espite a flood of rival tablet computers, Indonesian consumers have continued to flock to the iPad, creating a lucrative market for used units.

Consequently, Virza said the clause in the consumer law was vague and needed more legal clarification .

“This article must be clearly interpreted by the Constitutional Court so that it will not cause any confusion among the police, prosecutor, judge and defense attorney, as it will also have an effect on a citizen’s constitutional rights,” he said.

Last month, Endang recommended the judge sentence both Randy and Dian to five months in prison for selling used iPads without providing an Indonesian manual.

She also demanded the Central Jakarta District Court destroy the eight iPads confiscated from the suspects.

“We found it odd that the prosecutors demanded the evidence be destroyed. I would prefer that the evidence be handed to the state,” Virza said.

Also on Wednesday, the South Jakarta District Court rejected the defense plea entered by Charlie Sianipar, an iPad seller at Ambassador Mall in South Jakarta who was charged with a similar violation.

Charlie was arrested after seven of his customers, who were actually police officers, seized 14 iPads from his shop in November last year.

Andar Pangabean, Charlie’s attorney, told the Jakarta Globe that the case should have been handled by the Consumers Dispute Resolution Agency (BPSK) because it was not a crime.

“I am really disappointed with the judge’s decision concerning our defense, because I believe my client is innocent and he should not undergo further court examination,” Andar said.

“However we will present evidence, regulations and experts to prove that my client is innocent.”

Court Rejects Antasari’s Request for New Testimony

The Jakarta Globe

During a bid for a case review of his 2010 murder conviction, former antigraft czar Antasari Azhar said he would need a number of witnesses, including prosecutors from his original trial, to be present during the review.

“The prosecutors who appear can be anyone who handled my case, including Cirus Sinaga,” Antasari said.

“We need to clarify whether all the evidence was presented during on the trial or not.”

Cirus is on trial for obstruction of justice and abuse of power that led to the acquittal of tax official Gayus Tambunan.

Cirus started Antasari’s October 2009 trial by stating that the motive for the murder of businessman Nasrudin Zulkarnaen was an affair between Antasari and Nasrudin’s wife, golf caddy Rani Juliana.

Nasrudin alledgedly caught the pair together in a hotel room.

But presiding judge Aminal Umam said the request could not be carried out because the witnesses could not be interrogated again after a case was closed.

Speaking at the South Jakarta District Court on Tuesday, Antasari also said he wanted hospital medical staff members, a forensic doctor and a former subordinate to testify for him.

“In order to present our new evidence, we need to have several witnesses, such as medical staff from Mayapada Hospital, a doctor from Gatot Subroto Hospital, the information analyst Ina Susanti from [the Corruption Eradication Commission] and also the prosecutors,” Antasari said.

“We need the court’s help to make them appear because it has the authority to do so.”

The medical workers at Mayapada Hospital were the first to treat Nasrudin shortly after he was gunned down by two men in Tangerang in March 2009.

He was later moved to Gatot Subroto Hopsital, where he died and the autopsy of his body was performed.

“We want the court to subpoena the medical workers from Mayapada Hospital who were on duty from noon to 6 p.m. on March 14, 2009, when Nasrudin arrived at the hospital. It is difficult for us to get them to reply to us on our own,” Antasari told the court.

“We need to know who received Nasrudin’s body, who took off his clothes and to whom the clothes were handed.”

Antasari said the presence of the doctor from Gatot Subroto Hospital was also important to his case because his lawyers needed more details on which medical procedures were performed on Nasrudin.

Moreover, Antasari also asked the court to present Ina Susanti, his former employee at the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), to present wire-tapped phone conversations related to the case.

Prosecutor Eri Yudianto said the case review request should be rejected because Antasari had failed to present new evidence as required by the law.

In an earlier hearing, Antasari’s lawyers claimed a case review was needed because they were in possession of several pieces of new evidence relating to Nasrudin’s car, the bullets from the shooting and text messages.

“We reject the new pieces of evidence. They are not new because they were examined previously,” the prosecutor said.

The case review is Antasari’s last chance to have his 18-year jail sentence overturned.

Kidnapped Indonesian Girl Safely Home, But a Warning for Parents

The Jakarta Globe

Agus Budiarto and Heny Marliana experienced the darkest moment of their lives in early August when their 6-month-old daughter, Cheryl Audrey, was abducted by their nanny.

They reported the case to the police and went on national television and online media to appeal for their daughter’s return. The media blitz proved to be valuable in the hunt for Cheryl.

Within two days, a couple who saw the appeal on TV brought the baby to Cakung subprecinct police station in East Jakarta and Cheryl was reunited with her parents. The nanny, Ina Asryiana, was arrested and is now in detention awaiting a possible trial.

Although the ordeal ended happily enough, the family is one of the very few to come through unscathed in such cases.

According to the National Commission for Child Protection (Komnas Anak), 111 children were reported missing or kidnapped last year, only 5 percent of whom were ever returned to their families.

As of June this year, another 78 children have been abducted, according to figures from another watchdog, the Indonesian Commission for Child Protection (KPAI).

Arist Merdeka Sirait, the chairman of Komnas Anak, told the Jakarta Globe that in many cases, families were unable to provide much help to the police investigating abductions.

“The police also usually only take action after the victim has been missing for more than 24 hours,” he added. “Less than that, and the police will tend not to look into the case, either because of limited evidence or a limited budget.”

Other than kidnap for ransom, Arist went on, some abductions were carried out by nannies, baby sitters or neighbors over unfair treatment by the family, perceived or otherwise.

Agus said that in his family’s case, the couple who turned in his daughter said they had bought Cheryl from Ina, whom they had only met once.

He said Ina had later claimed that she had not meant to kidnap the child, but had taken her because she could not bear to leave her behind when she traveled back to her hometown of Subang in West Java.

“But I don’t believe everything that she says,” he said.

Maria Ulfah Anshor, the KPAI chairwoman, said divorce was the main factor in child abduction cases.

“According to our data, 70 percent of child abductions happen because of a custody battle over the children between separated parents,” she said.

“That happens because someone refuses to accept a court’s decision on custody of the child.”

Only 30 percent of abductions are carried out for financial motives, she said. But the financial gain in such cases does not always come from demanding a ransom from the parents.

“Several weeks ago, the KPAI found two children working as beggars on a train,” Maria said.

“We later found out that they were forced to do that by a stranger. Unfortunately, when we asked them about the stranger’s address, they couldn’t give us any details. That makes it very hard for us to investigate the case.”

Other means of exploitation employed by kidnappers include forcing children into the sex trade or selling them to childless couples for profit.

Maria said it was important for parents and police officers to adopt preventive measures against child abduction.

“Parents must start educating their children to be wary about talking to strangers or receiving anything from them,” she said.

“The police also need to disseminate information among elementary school students about the issue, because most of the targets of child abduction are elementary school-age children.”

But for Agus, the real lesson to take away from the whole ordeal is never to entrust the care of his child to a complete stranger.

The nanny who kidnapped his daughter was hired from a maid placement agency in Senen, Central Jakarta.

“In order to prevent anything like this from happening again, I hope that the agencies that provide baby sitters and nannies become more selective about recruiting workers and train them properly,” Agus said.

“But I’ve given up putting my trust in baby sitters. I believe it would be much better for the parents to take care of their own children until they are old enough to talk and can defend themselves. Otherwise we will just be placing our own children in great danger.”

Gayus Stirs Up More Controversy With Behind-Bars Pregnancy Trick

The Jakarta Globe
Gayus Stirs Up More Controversy With Behind-Bars Pregnancy Trick

Indonesians are getting lessons in the intricacies of conjugal visits at the country’s prisons, after it was reported that the wife of high-profile graft convict Gayus Tambunan was pregnant.

Akbar Hadi, a spokesman for the Justice and Human Rights Ministry’s Directorate General of Corrections, said on Thursday that there were no conjugal visitation rooms at prisons.

“But every convict has the right to take leave to see family members, and they can also use that time to have sex with their spouse,” he said.

Hadi was speaking in response to speculation that Gayus, who is serving a 12-year sentence, was allowed to have sex with his wife while in custody.

Milana Anggraeni, Gayus’s wife, is reportedly pregnant with twins. It is unclear how far into her pregnancy she is.

Hadi said that in order to qualify for home leave, a prisoner would have to meet several criteria. “Among the requirements, convicts must have served more than half their sentence, exhibited good behavior and must have a guarantee from their family that they will not flee,” he said.

Under those terms, Gayus would not qualify for home leave, having only been in detention since late last year.

However, Hadi was adamant that the prisoner could not have impregnated his wife without leaving prison.

“There is no such thing as a conjugal visit room to have sex in prison,” he said. “If there’s anyone who claims otherwise, we will investigate.”

Gayus, a former mid-ranking tax official who was found to have amassed more than Rp 100 billion ($11.7 million) in cash and gold bars, made headlines last year when it was revealed that he had bribed his way out of detention scores of times while supposedly in remand pending his corruption trial.

Local media reports suggest he may have impregnated his wife during one of these jaunts, but this has not been confirmed.

Hotma Sitompul, Gayus’s lawyer, told the Jakarta Globe that he was unaware of the impregnation scandal.

Truth Remains Elusive for Brother of Slain Nasrudin

The Jakarta Globe

Andi Syamsudin thought he knew who killed his brother.

But now Andi, the younger brother of slain businessman Nasrudin Zulkarnaen, doesn’t know what to believe.

In an interview with the Jakarta Globe on Thursday, Andi said he doubted that Antasari Azhar, the former antigraft czar convicted of murdering Nasrudin, actually committed the crime, which prosecutors said was motivated by a love triangle involving golf caddy Rani Juliani, who was Nasrudin’s third wife, Nasrudin himself and Antasari.

“I tried to see and understand the relations between my brother, Antasari and the motive of the murder. I found it odd that Antasari, as the chairman of the KPK (Corruption Eradication Commission), would do such a thing just because of a woman,” he said. “It made no sense to me.”

Andi, who once denounced the court for giving Antasari a “lenient sentence,” said he had tried everything he could to reveal the truth.

“I visited Antasari in Tangerang Prison for an explanation of why he would kill my brother. He provided me an explanation. He even told me about his friendship with my brother,” he said.

“But later when I wanted an explanation from Rani, I had no access to her because she was under the police protection and I would need a special permit from the police chief to meet her.

“It makes me wonder who Rani really is. Why is she so special? What happened exactly? If it was about security or safety reasons, why couldn’t the police set up a meeting themselves?”

Andi said it would be naive to link the murder to a love triangle involving a woman whose marital status with Nasrudin was unclear.

“Other than that, when I asked doctors to take action to save my brother, they told me they could not do anything without the family’s permission. But once I was in Jakarta, my brother had his hair shaved,” Andi said, recalling moments after the murder in March 2009.

“All that has made me wonder, what happened exactly?”

Andi says he now thinks the murder was engineered by people who disliked Antasari’s cracking down on major graft cases while leading the KPK.

“I believe some people wanted to get rid of Antasari because he prosecuted many big corruption cases, such as the information technology equipment procurement at KPU [General Elections Commission],” he said.

One question, however, remains unanswered.

“Why my brother? If Nasrudin has no relation with Antasari, would he be murdered? If Antasari wasn’t the KPK chairman, would this have happened?”

Andi said he was upset at the lack of support in helping him find the real perpetrators.

“It seems nobody wants to stand with us to find the true actor. I wonder if it is also part of the plan in which the real actor tried to keep everybody from supporting us so the truth would never be uncovered,” he said.

For Andi, unless the Indonesian justice system is totally reformed and a new government comes into power, reaching the truth seems unlikely.

“We have seen that even the Judicial Commission’s recommendation has been dismissed by the Supreme Court. Should we expect something more from them? I doubt it,” he said.

The Judicial Commission had asked the top court to suspend three district court judges who took part in Antasari’s trial over suspicions of unprofessional conduct in the case, but instead of granting the request, the Supreme Court promoted the trio.

“If you asked me whether I am afraid to investigate this case or not, I would say yes,” Andi said. “But I threw my fear away because I want to know the truth. If it was not me as Nasrudin’s brother, who else will do it?”

Yacht Rally Marks Tourism Push for Aceh’s Sabang

The Jakarta Globe
Yacht Rally Marks Tourism Push for Aceh’s Sabang

Sabang in Aceh will play host to an international yacht rally this month, as part of a government campaign to promote the country’s westernmost city as a marine tourism destination.

Sapta Nirwandar, director general of promotions at the Ministry of Culture and Tourism, said the Indonesian Sailing Federation was staging the first Sabang International Regatta, from Sept. 15-25.

Participants will cover more than 500 kilometers, sailing across the Malacca Strait from Malaysia’s Langkawi Island and finishing at Sabang’s Weh Island.

“We want to use the Sabang International Regatta 2011 to introduce Sabang to the world as a marine destination in the western part of Indonesia,” Sapta said.

“Sabang Port is interesting for foreign tourists. There are many international cruise ships that stop there to see the beauty of Weh Island, which has become a center of marine tourism in western Indonesia.”

Sabang was one of the areas most devastated by the tsunami that hit Aceh in 2004. Firmansyah Rahim, the Ministry of Culture and Tourism’s director general of destination development, said the city had rebuilt its infrastructure to support tourism.

“We are trying to develop interesting travel packages to promote the region. It has lots of potential, with many dive spots,” he said.

Sabang, Firmansyah said, is being developed as one of 18 planned stopping points in Indonesia for luxury yachts.

Munawar Liza Zainal, the mayor of Sabang, said they needed more investment to develop the natural beauty of the city, both underwater and on land.

According to Munawar, there are about 400 hotel rooms in Sabang but no hotel has earned even a one-star rating.

“Hotels are all managed by locals. It is because we do not have any big investors yet after the 2004 tsunami,” he said.

To improve tourism in Sabang, “we have to provide comfortable and charming accommodation and a clean and tidy environment,” the mayor said.

There are lots of economic selling points in Sabang for travelers and potential investors, Munawar said.

“Unlike other districts, Sabang issues business permits itself so investors do not have to try to get them from the central government,” he said.

“Sabang is also a duty-free island where we do not impose a luxury tax.”

Antasari Begins Bid for New Trial

The Jakarta Globe

Antasari Azhar, the anticorruption czar turned murder convict, attended the first hearing on Tuesday of his demand for a case review in the slaying of businessman Nasrudin Zulkarnaen, with the victim’s family providing their endorsement.

Antasari, the former chairman of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), was sentenced to 18 years in prison in 2010 for Nasrudin’s murder in what prosecutors described as a love triangle turned deadly.

Nasrudin’s younger brother, Andi Syamsudin, told reporters at the South Jakarta District Court that the findings of the Judicial Commission (KY) in the case pointed to the innocence of the former KPK head.

The judicial watchdog said in April that the judges in Antasari’s trial had been negligent by failing to consider the testimony of several experts and witnesses in arriving at their verdict.

“I have a lot of confidence that Antasari will be found not guilty because the KY recommendations mentioned that the panel of judges who presided over the trial were found to have ignored critical evidence in the case,” Andi said.

He said he hoped the judges would “appreciate” the new evidence and approve the case review. If the district court approves the review, it goes to the Supreme Court, and Andi said he hoped the judges there would acquit Antasari.

“If Antasari is released, I hope he will help us investigate and find the real culprit behind my brother’s murder,” he said. Andi added that the family, including his brother’s widow and children, had never accepted that a love triangle had been behind the murder.

“My wife and I have been assisting with this case because we cannot accept the fact that Nasrudin was killed,” Andi said.

Maqdir Ismail, Antasari’s lawyer, has said that six new pieces of evidence, relating to Nasrudin’s car, the bullets from the shooting and text messages, would be presented. He said none of the evidence had been presented at previous trials.

Outside the court, Antasari said he and Nasrudin’s family were eager to uncover the truth behind the murder.

“Even though I have been detained for three years, I carry no grudge because I knew this was the risk of my job,” he said. “If I was not the antigraft chief at the time, dealing with many corruption cases, would I have faced this thing? Do I look like a murderer?”

Antasari said his lawyers had submitted new evidence to the National Police related to a threatening text message he is alleged to have sent Nasrudin.

“In the previous trial, I was accused of sending a text message threat to Nasrudin, but that was not true,” he said. “There was an actor, who used my number to threaten other people, but I cannot elaborate right now because the investigation has to be carried out properly and we will present witnesses and evidence.”

Nasrudin was shot multiple times in March 2009 by a group of men on motorcycles while sitting in his car after leaving a golf club in Tangerang. He died in the hospital a day later.

Legislators Demand Answers Over Spike In Mudik Accidents

The Jakarta Globe

Elisabeth Oktofani, Febriamy Hutapea & Camelia Pasandaran

Transportation Minister Freddy Numberi will be summoned for questioning by legislators over the huge increase in traffic accidents during this year’s mudik, an official said on Monday.

Marwan Jafar, a National Awakening Party (PKB) lawmaker and member of House of Representatives Commission V, which oversees transportation affairs, said the rise in accidents during the annual end-of-Ramadan exodus warranted an official explanation.

“We will soon conduct an evaluation meeting with the transportation minister,” he said.

He added that all state officials responsible for ensuring an incident-free mudik would also be evaluated, including those from the Ministry of Public Works, which he said failed to complete urgently needed road repairs where many of the accidents occurred.

The National Police recorded 4,006 accidents between Aug. 23 and Sept. 4. Idul Fitri, the holiday marking the end of Ramadan, fell on Aug. 31 this year.

The number of accidents was up by a third from last year’s figure of 3,010, but the number of fatalities was down — 661 compared to 746 last year, according to the police. Health Minister Endang Rahayu Sedyaningsih said on Monday that the number of fatalities was “around 700.”

Alvinsyah, a transportation expert from the University of Indonesia, said most of the accidents could be attributed to careless motorcycle and car driving.

“[Drivers] failed to exercise discipline while driving because they were too excited about going home to see their families,” he said.

Alvinsyah said that while reckless driving was the primary cause behind many of the accidents, other contributing factors included poor road conditions and mechanical problems with the vehicles.

“With the number of accidents over the Idul Fitri exodus increasing each year, the government needs to pay serious attention to the factors behind them and take serious long-term ac tion improve the mudik,” he said.

“It needs to improve the quality of road infrastructure and provide more traffic signs and proper rest areas along the main mudik routes.”

He also said many people choose to travel in private vehicles due to a shortage of public transportation.

“The public transportation options and capacity are very limited, while the number of travelers is high and many of them have a limited budget. Therefore, they seek the cheapest option,” he said.

The president’s office agreed with the need to thoroughly review this year’s mudik preparations, but it played down the problem of poor roads.

Julian Pasha, a presidential spokesman, said the rise in accidents may have reflected the higher number of people traveling this year.

He added that data on the number of mudik travelers was still being compiled. In August, the Ministry of Transportation predicted that the number of road and rail travelers would total about nine million this year, up from 8.6 million last year.