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The Riddle of the Governor's Letter

TEMPO has discovered an irregularity in Governor Sutiyoso's letter that was included as evidence against the magazine in court.

EVIDENCE may make a case clearer, but likewise, it may also make it more obscure, even suspicious. This became apparent in the case of TEMPO's chief editor Bambang Harymurti, and two other editors of this magazine, Iskandar Ali and Ahmad Taufik, held in the Central Jakarta District Court. They were charged with spreading false news in the article Getting Burned in an edition at the beginning of March.

To prove his case, the plaintiff, Tomy Winata (boss of the Artha Graha Group) handed over to the police as evidence, a letter from Jakarta Governor Sutiyoso. Oddly, there is an irregularity in the dates inserted in the governor's letters and other relevant documents. From this it is clear that the confiscation of the evidence was carried out before the governor's letter--the evidence itself--was issued.

Consequently, last Wednesday, Bambang Harymurti accompanied by his lawyers reported the forgery or the fabrication of the letter to the National Police Headquarters. "Because the process is confusing, the letter is strongly believed to be a fake," said Trimoelja D. Soerjadi, one of TEMPO's lawyers.

Tomy Winata's legal adviser, Desmon J. Mahesa admitted that they handed over evidence in the form of the governor's letter to the Jakarta Police handling the case. The purpose is to clarify the matter, as in the magazine article it was mentioned that Tomy's proposal in the Tanah Abang Market renovation project exists. "TEMPO always says that the proposal exists," said Desmon.

The document dated March 13, 2003, was signed by Governor Sutiyoso himself and was addressed to Desmon, as Tomy Winata's legal attorney. It said that the governor has never received any proposal regarding the renovation of Tanah Abang market from anybody, especially Tomy Winata. The letter was an answer to Desmon's letter to the governor of the same date.

The similarity of the dates, according to TEMPO's side, was unusual considering the customarily slow response of our bureaucracy. "The governor's reply in less than 12 hours is extraordinary!" said Firman Wijaya, one of TEMPO's lawyers.

Desmon didn't deny the fast response of the governor. To TEMPO he said that he delivered his letter in the morning directly to Sutiyoso, and in the afternoon the governor's answer was issued.

Sutoyiso's reaction? Proud of having replied to Desmon's letter promptly. "That means my staff have improved," he said.

But Firman Wijaya also discovered another curious thing in the confiscation warrant of the governor's letter attached to the examination report of his client. The warrant was signed by Senior Assistant Commissioner M. Tiito Karnavian on March 12, 2003. Strangely, the confiscation was carried out by his subordinate, Assistant Police Commissioner Ponadi a day before. This is seen in the confiscation report signed by Ponadi, Tomy Winata, and two witnesses at 1pm on March 11, 2003.

The seizure process became more bizarre as the confiscated evidence--the governor's letter--was only signed on March 13, 2003. Thus, according to Trimoelja, when the confiscation was carried out, Governor Sutiyoso's letter did not yet exist. Trimoleja said that this confusion on the dates was not just sloppy work, because the date in the confiscation report was also written in words, besides numerals.

Trimoleja believes that there has been tampering with the letters. From those related documents, we can at least see there are some with false dates. According to Trimoelja, this also proves Tomy Winata's close relationship with the police and the bureaucracy.

But Jakarta Police's Chief Inspector General Makbul Padmanegara has denied all accusations. He said: "This is only an administration mishap in dating the documents."

Nevertheless, TEMPO is adamant that there has been falsification or fixing in the seizure of the governor's letter. "Therefore, the charge against our clients is also flawed and should be cancelled in the name of the law," said Trimoelja.

Now it is time for the judge's conscience to take over.

Endri Kurniawati, Abdul Manan, Istiqomatul Hayati, Multazam (TEMPO News Room)

TEMPO, OCTOBER 13, 2003-005/P. 52 Heading Law

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