10 govt critics hauled up over riots

INDONESIA IN TRANSITION

The opposition leaders are taken in for questioning under a law covering treason. Habibie vows swift action against those responsible for riots.

THE Indonesian government has acted on its warning against subversive groups, taking in 10 vocal opposition leaders for questioning on suspicion of plotting to overthrow President B.J. Habibie.

National police spokesman Brigadier-General Togar Siamipar said yesterday the government critics were hauled up over the weekend under a law covering treason.

“Based on our investigation and interrogation of several witnesses, we conducted an investigation into these 10 people,” he said.

“We have found that there have been violations of law covering conspiracy to topple a legitimate government.”

He said that police believed the 10 had encouraged “anarchic acts” which led to clashes between the military and thousands of demonstrators, causing at least 14 deaths and widespread rioting and looting in the capital.

Those convicted under the law face jail sentences of between 15 years to life.

Brig-Gen Togar said none of the 10 was under arrest but they had been banned from leaving the country.

The 10 include Miss Sukmawati Sukarnoputri, a daughter of late founding President Sukarno and younger sister of opposition leader Megawati Sukarnoputri.

Two retired army generals – Lt-General Kemal Idris, who heads the National Front, and former Jakarta Governor Ali Sadikin – were also questioned.

Also on the hit list were Mr Hariadi Dharmawan, head of the Indonesian Alumni Association and a retired inspector-general of the Forestry Ministry, Mr Roch Basuki of the National Reform Movement and Sri Bintang Pamukas Democratic Party of Indonesia (Pudi).

The 10 had signed a communique on Thursday which did not recognise the special session of the People’s Consultative Assembly, and called on Dr Habibie to resign last week before the unrest hit Jakarta on Friday.

Critics charged that the interrogations were a government ploy to find a scapegoat for last week’s bloody crackdown.

Noted Mr Bambang Widjojanto, chairman of the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute: “We could already see from the President’s speech that he has ordered Wiranto to take stern action because of suspicion of subversion.”

General Wiranto is Abri’s chief.

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