Subject: Gatra: Making Arrest Only To Please

Gatra 10/26/00

RESTRUCTURING Making Arrest Only To Please

Eurico Guterres was arrested without resistance. He was charged with sedition and involvement in human right violation. But the police was accused of acting only to please the president and UN.

A platoon of Mobile Brigade troops guarded the entrance to the building of Detectives Corps RI Police Headquarters on Wednesday last week. Two troopers with rifle in hands stood on guard on both sides of the main entrance. The others by turn inspected all corners of the building located on Jalan Trunojoyo, South Jakarta.

The sight was clearly special. It's not often the Detectives Corps building is guarded so strongly. But since Wednesday there was indeed an important event that called for vigilance on the part of the Mobile Brigade (Brimob). Eurico Guterres, Deputy Commander of East Timor Integration Fighter Troops, was detained by the police in the building. He had been arrested on charges of sedition to oppose authorities.

According to Head of Information Service, RI Police (Polri), Brigadier General Saleh Saaf, Eurico was arrested based on reports of the Belu area police in East Nusa Tenggara (NTT). "He instigated refugees to take back weapons they had submitted to the police," said Saleh Saaf. Because of Eurico's instigation, 20 firearms had been forcefully retrieved by Eurico's followers, and of these five had not been returned till now.

Thus, tight security at the Polri Headquarters was deemed necessary, because it was feared Eurico's arrest would invite the anger of his followers who might be in Jakarta. Uniquely, during Eurico's arrest, it can be said the police did not experience any difficulty. Eurico Guterres was nabbed in room 515 of Hotel Ibis, Kemayoran, Jakarta, just before midday on Wednesday last week.

That noon, four policemen in civilian cloths visited Eurico. One of them was very familiar to Eurico, because he spent some time on duty in East Timor. They greeted each other warmly. In midst of conversation, the police officer revealed the purpose of the visit. On hearing it, Eurico Guterres was taken aback, but then he yielded to be taken to Polri Headquarters, without resistance.

But acts of revenge by Eurico's followers might not be as docile as Eurico's reaction. Therefore, security guard in West Timor territory, NTT, was immediately tightened, much tighter than the security mounted at the Polri Headquarters Detectives Corps building. This was understandable, as West Timor was where pro-integration East Timor refugees had been temporarily accommodated, and some of them were former militia members who supported Eurico Guterres.

In West Timor, security authorities had declared alert-one state after the arrest of Eurico. Four TNI battalions and one Brimob battalion were put on alert in anticipation of angry reaction from Eurico Guterres' supporters. On hearing news of Eurico's arrest, almost all members of the militia who supported him in West Timor had indeed become restless.

In Belu Regency, for example, about 3,000 refugees planned to go on a long march to Atambua, the regency's capital. In Kupang, thousands of Eurico Guterres' followers from the refugee camps in Naibonat in Oesao, Tuapukan, and Noelbaki were ready to mount demonstrations to the NTT Regional Police headquarters. Fortunately, security forces were able to abort these bids.

The anger of Eurico's supporters made some West Timor's citizens residing near the refugee camps to chose moving away. As did Thomas Fahik, 46, inhabitant of Sukabitetek, Tasbar District, Belu Regency. He decided to evacuate to his son's place at Kefamenanu.

"I live near a refugee camp. I know well the character of the militia members. When angered, they usually are brutal," he said. In the morning before his departure, Thomas Fahik with his wife and children saw hundreds of militia with swords in hands trying to stop trucks and force the drivers to take them along to Atambua.

For many of the militia, the arrest of Eurico Guterres was unacceptable. Jose Fernando Soares, 24, a former militia in Aitarak under Eurico, said the arrest was merely a political ploy. "I'm sure, this arrest was done by Polri to please the president," said Jose.

Jose's accusation was not unjustified. The Eurico arrest came less than a week after President Abdurrahman Wahid gave the signal. "People like Eurico Guterres, if truly known to have transgressed the law, ought to be arrested," said the president in flight from Caracas, Venezuela, to Brazil on Friday two weeks ago.

A day after, in a gathering with Indonesian community at the RI Embassy Building in Brazil, President Abdurrahman Wahid even said that security agencies would arrest Eurico Guterres soon. "This is important, because after we had detained Eurico, the world will see we're serious about tackling the problem in East Timor," said the president.

Indeed, the arrest could not be separated from international pressure. Two days before the president signaled the intention to arrest Eurico, Head of the United Nations Transitional Administration in East Timor (UNTAET), Sergio Vieira de Mello, had asked the Indonesian Government to arrest the pigtailed youth.

In an open meeting on East Timor at UN Headquarters, New York, United States, Sergio Vieira de Mello questioned why militia leader Eurico Guterres was still permitted to move freely. Whereas, in fact, according to De Mello, Eurico was suspected to be perpetrator of crimes against humanity. De Mello was referring to how Eurico was free to move about during a recent militia de-armament ceremony.

The softness of the Indonesian Government to international pressure in the case of Eurico's arrest was strongly criticized by Amien Rais, Speaker of People's Consultative Assembly (MPR). Amien expressed his sympathy to Eurico. "Eurico Guterres had fought all out for Indonesia, but now he was treated as a worthless throw-away," said Amien.

Amien thought the move to arrest Eurico could be justified if he was truly guilty. But his present arrest gave the impression he was arrested only to please the UN. "Though the president said he should be arrested, we must not arrest him willy-nilly," said Amien. The impression of external influence on the police in this arrest also struck Ichlasul Amal, Rector of Gadjah Mada University, Yogyakarta.

"The arrest showed that our police had not become really independent yet," Ichlasul told Sawariyanto of GATRA. According to Ichlasul, if Eurico was arrested on the ground of mounting public sedition during the ceremonial de-armament, it's an unconvincing ground.

"What happened at the time was a momentary reaction. It could not be taken as sedition," said Ichlasul. More so, as Coordinating Minister for Politics, Social Affairs, and Security Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had stated that friction during the militia de-armament ceremony was the result of misunderstanding. For Ichlasul, solution for the case of Eurico Guterres should be proportional.

"In other words, if it's a legal issue, then it should be resolved through the law," said Ichlasul. Indonesia should show the UN that the priority should be legal interest, not pressure from the UN. For it is true pressure from the UN has not always been objective. "So, if necessary, release Eurico. To make an arrest, there should be a strong legal ground," said Ichlasul.

Suspicion of something wrong in the arrest also arose because of a maneuver by Head of Polri (Kapolri) General S. Bimantoro. Not long after Eurico was arrested, Bimantoro came to see him. For nearly half an hour, the two engaged in discussions in a room. According to Eurico, Bimantoro only explained the reason for his detention.

But Eurico refused to reveal the contents of the rest of the conversations. Clearly, in the version of Suhardi, his lawyer, his arrest was tantamount to kidnapping. "For when making the arrest, the police did not have with them an arrest order," said Suhardi. Not to say, he added, that Eurico had evidently been put in police list of wanted persons (DPO) for long.

"How could one be put in the DPO, when he had never been summoned even once?" asked Suhardi. He saw an oddity in the sedition charge against Eurico. Article 160 of the Criminal Code (KUHP) that was applied had also been seldom used. "It's an almost unused article on provocation," he said. Suhardi surmised there was ulterior non-legal motives behind this case.

Kapolri Bimantoro obviously rejected the assumption. He emphasized that although some circles regarded Eurico a fighter defending the Motherland, that did not make him special before the law. "Whoever breaks the law must be dealt with," he told GATRA after attending a TNI Day celebration.

No less, Eurico Guterres did enjoy a bit of privilege. When the Attorney General Office wanted to have him on hand for interrogation at the Attorney General Office Building, the Polri Headquarters did not permit it. Whereas in fact, before Eurico's arrest, the police had been on his trail for a case of human right violation. He was suspected of implication in attack on the home of Manuel Carascalao, a pro-independence figure, way before polling was carried out.

A joint team investigating human rights violations in East Timor had to come to Polri Headquarters to interrogate him on Friday last week. On the same day, the Polri Headquarters also granted request for postponement of detention submitted by Eurico via his legal attorney. In other words, from that day, Eurico Guterres was placed on bail.

Meanwhile, all tensions and debates over Eurico's arrest did seem to subside. It was more so, because pro-integration leaders succeeded to keep down rate of restlessness among the East Timor refugees. Former Commander of Integration Fighters Troops, Joao Tavares, for instance, said he had decided to give opportunity to investigators to process Eurico's case under the law.

"We would let him be examined. If he's guilty, go ahead punish him," said Joao. He also claimed to have ordered all former pro-integration fighting troopers to remain within camps to prevent undesirable possibilities. "It's a problem that many infiltrators have been trying to provoke the former militia," he said.

But many other issues were still unresolved. Eurico Guterres, for instance, felt all that he had done had been to struggle for East Timor and Indonesia. "Whoever he may be, Australia, America, other foreign nation, or even Indonesia's own son, if he should try to pull down the Red and White in East Timor, he's my opponent," he said.

So for Eurico, the one really fit to bring to court is former President Habibie, who offered the option of independence without taking into account conditions in East Timor and without consultation with MPR and House of Representatives (DPR). "It turns out Habibie is untouchable by the law, while I who only execute orders, am now regarded guilty," he said.

Questions to be answered regarding Eurico's arrest do linked to many other things, including the UN that wanted Eurico tried. Complaints accusing UNAMET, the UN mission for polling in East Timor, as the mastermind of all troubles still continued to appear. One of these came from New Indonesia Democracy Institute (LDBIB).

Chaired by Dimyati Hartono, this institute through an interactive discussion on Friday last week exposed a variety of UNAMET dishonesty. From dishonesty in recruitment of local staff to fraudulent roles of tourists and foreign journalists. One day, after studying all evidences thoroughly, LDIB pledged it would not hesitate to request the UN to account before the law.

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