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Going Around in Circles

The Yogyakarta Police have formed yet another team to investigate the murder of Bernas daily reporter, Udin.

TWO weeks ago, a team of 12 police investigating officers began collecting evidence to solve the murder of Bernas journalist, Fuad Muhammad Syafruddin, better known as Udin. "We are calling it the Udin team," Yogyakarta Police Investigating Director, Dadang Rusli told Tempo last Thursday.

Yogyakarta Police have promised to deliver results with this new team. Two weeks ago, Yogyakarta Police Chief, Brig. Gen. Bambang Aris Sampurno promised representatives from the Indonesian United Journalists Association (PWI), the Indonesian Journalists Alliance (AJI) and a number of non-governmental organizations that the investigating team was planning to solve the case as soon as possible.

On August 13, 1996 Udin was rushed to hospital after being beaten in front of his house on Jl. Parangtritis in Bantul. On August 16, 1996 he was pronounced dead. But, police have still been unable to track down those behind his murder.

Every year since Udin's murder, legal aid organizations and journalists in Yogyakarta have commemorated both Udin's death and National Press Day by pushing the president, the House of Representatives and the National Police Chief to step up investigations into the case. And this year was no different with Udin's colleagues demanding that the police take the case seriously.

On November 20, 2004 shortly after Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was appointed President of Indonesia, the PWI Yogyakarta sent a letter to Yudhoyono requesting him to review Udin's case. On June 3, a second letter was sent to the president. And on June 30, the State Secretary responded to this letter.

Signed by the Deputy State Secretary of Policy Support, Sumarwoto, and addressed to the Chief of Yogyakarta Police, the letter requested Yogyakarta Police to step up investigations into Udin's death. However, Dadang Rusli claims that the decision to form a new team assigned to investigate Udin's case was not motivated by the State Secretary's letter.

Now, all hopes for closure in the case rest with the police "Udin team". According to Rusli, the team will join forces with the existing fact-finding team at the Yogyakarta Police to focus on the reasons and motives behind Udin's murder.

The original police investigating team, formed shortly after Udin's death, focused on an alleged affair that Udin was having with another man's wife. These investigations resulted in the declaration of Dwi Sumaji, the husband of Udin's alleged lover, as the key suspect in Udin's murder. Police came to the conclusion after discovering a photograph of Sumaji's wife, Sunarti, in Udin's wallet. Indeed, both Udin and Sunarti were on the board of directors of an Intra-School Students Organization in Madrasah, Bantul.

Sumaji was even brought to court, but was exonerated from all charges after telling the court on October 22, 1997 that he had admitted to murdering Udin in return for a house, a car, a job and an award from the Governor of Bantul. During trial, Sumaji testified that these promises had been made to him by the Bantul Police Department investigating chief, Edy Wuryanto. The court exonerated Sumaji from murder charges on November 27, 1997.

Ironically, no action was taken against Edy Wuryanto, although he had lost evidence in the form of Udin's notes and had thrown away a sample of the victim's blood, which Udin's family had lent him. This blood sample was reportedly thrown into the South Java Sea.

However, the AJI Yogyakarta and the Southeast Asian Press Alliance (Sapa) decided to sue the National Police Chief and the Military Police Central Commander, accusing them of failing to investigate Wuryanto, who had since been transferred to the National Police HQ Investigation Corps.

In 2004, trial began over Wuryanto at the Military Court and on May 27, 2005 the Yogyakarta Military Court sentenced Wuryanto to 20 months in prison, having found him guilty of losing evidence.

In the meantime, the PWI has claimed that Udin's murder was linked to a number of articles that he wrote and published in the Bernas daily. Another team of independent journalists, naming themselves the White Kijang Fact-Finding Team, has also made this claim. According to the PWI, Udin's murder is linked to an article published in Bernas, titled "Only Half of the IDT Funds were Distributed", reporting the alleged misappropriation of village assistance funds (IDT).

The PWI claims that this scenario is supported by evidence, including a memo sent by former Governor of Bantul, Sri Roso Sudarmo, to the former Karanganyar district chief, Hardi Purnomo, on July 27, 1996, requesting information regarding the IDT funds and preparing a lawsuit against the Bernas editors. The memo also asked that the case be resolved before August 17, 1996. "We don't know whether it is a coincidence or not, but Udin died just one day before the deadline," said Yogyakarta PWI's Asril Sutan Marajo.

According to Marajo, Sri Roso Sudarmo also held a press conference on August 23, 1996 denying any link to Udin's murder. Based on this evidence, the PWI fact-finding team believes that the former Governor of Bantul was somehow involved in Udin's murder.

Marajo also claims to have evidence that could shed more light on the case, in the form of receipts from a motorcar garage revealing that former Karanganyar district head, Hardi Purnomo, purchased a spare part similar to the one allegedly used to beat Udin with.

The White Kijang team, comprising colleagues of Udin, also claims that Udin's murder was linked to articles that he wrote. The first article reported the alleged payment of Rp1 billion in bribe money from Sri Roso Sudarmo to the Dharmais Foundation; the second article reported the alleged misappropriation of IDT funds.

Based on these findings, the Yogyakarta press community remains convinced that Udin's murder was linked to the articles that he wrote. In fact, two weeks ago, AJI Yogyakarta head, Bambang Murdoko, presented these findings to the National Police Chief during a private meeting. "If we only concern ourselves with matters that have already been dealt with, it is hard to believe that the case will be solved," he said.

In the meantime, nine years have passed since Udin was brutally murdered, yet the police have no leads on Udin's murderer. Last Wednesday, Udin's mother Mujillah told Tempo that she remained hopeful that Udin's murderer would eventually be found. "If the police are serious, they should investigate Sri Roso," she said.

Sri Roso Sudarmo himself refused to comment on the case. "I have nothing to say about it. I am tired of that case," he said.

Abdul Manan, Heru C.N., Syaiful Amin

TEMPO, SEPTEMBER 05, 2005-052/P. 30 Heading Law

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