Subject: 'I'm no traitor to my country': Gen. Tyasno

The Jakarta Post August 2, 2000

'I'm no traitor to my country': Gen. Tyasno

JAKARTA (JP): Army Chief of Staff Gen. Tyasno Sudarto vowed on Thursday that he would never answer the accusation made by defendant Ismail Putra in connection with Tyasno's alleged involvement in a Rp 19.2 billion (US$2.3 million) counterfeit money case.

"I am no traitor to my country or the Indonesian Army. I will never answer to this conspiracy to bring down the Army. We must be calm, and pray," Tyasno told his soldiers during a briefing at the Army Aviation Center in Pondok Cabe here

"All those accusations about my funding intelligence operations in East Timor (using that fake money) are cruel lies," he said.

In an emotional speech, the Army Chief of Staff said he had been selected by the President to guide his soldiers and that he would always be there to take the fall for them.

"Most of all, I am responsible to answering to God. My life is promised to the Army.

I am the one who has led you to be proud, but I am the most proud of the Army. Do not be influenced by this matter that has disturbed me so much," Tyasno said, as quoted by Antara.

"If they really wanted to bring me down, they should have played on my level, but they are using the lowest tactics, which is why I remain quiet.

I am quiet, not due to fear. I challenge all those lies."

In a hearing of the case on Thursday at the Central Jakarta District Court, defendant Yustinus Kasminto, one of the case's 10 defendants, told the hearing that the reason he had allowed defendant Ismail Putra to rent his printing company in Palmerah, Central Jakarta, where the fake money was produced, was his fear of "the Army officer".

"When defendant Ismail Putra introduced himself, he said he was an Army major general and that he meant to print confidential documents on behalf of the Army," Kasminto told the hearing.

"I was scared I would have been shot to death had I refused."

The statements made by Tyasno on Thursday against defendant Ismail come at a time when a lawyer in the case vowed on Wednesday to push the judge and prosecutor to summon Tyasno to testify as a witness.

"I will do my best to convince the presiding judge (Rasaldi Salmun) to order the prosecutor (Soejitno) to summon the general as a witness.

"We need to know the facts of this case," Yanuar Bagus Sasmito, lawyer for defendant Yustinus, told reporters at the South Jakarta District Court on Wednesday, where he was representing clients in a separate fake money case.

Yanuar accused Rasaldi and Soejitno of not having the courage to summon Tyasno, who allegedly ordered the production of the fake money to fund prointegration militia in East Timor during last August's referendum.

"Both the judge and prosecutor gave irrelevant reasons explaining why they cannot summon the general. The truth of this case needs to be known, and neither the judge nor the prosecutor care about calling the one man who can clarify things for us," Yanuar said.

On Tuesday, Rasaldi and Soejitno rejected pleas by two lawyers to summon Tyasno as a witness in connection with the crime, which according to police involved the largest amount of fake money ever seized in a single raid.

Their decision shocked the courtroom.

"Defendant Ismail Putra has repeatedly accused the general during previous hearings of being the sponsor behind this counterfeit case. And the man identified by defendant Ismail as (Gen.) Tyasno Sudarto is still at large," lawyer Yanuar told the hearing.

"We need to get Gen. Tyasno to testify as a witness and to clarify ... what the facts are."

In response to Yanuar's plea, Rasaldi spoke instead of another defense witness whom defendant Ismail was supposed to present before the courtroom. "Defendant Ismail could not even get witness Sudjono to appear before the court ... so, why should we bother Gen. Tyasno?"

Yanuar responded: "The general's reputation has been badly tarnished. The general must be given a chance to clarify things. I ask the honorable judges to get the prosecutor to summon Tyasno."

Rasaldi replied that if the general felt his image was tarnished, he had the right to sue Ismail.

Meanwhile, lawyer Sophar Maru Hutagalung, representing Yunie, another defendant in the case, asked judge Rasaldi to dismiss the entire case unless the court could present Tyasno.

"Unless Tyasno is brought before the court to prove whether there is truth in the words of defendant Ismail, I request that the honorable judges dismiss the case."

In response, prosecutor Soejitno said: "Calling Tyasno would be irrelevant." (ylt)

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