Jakarta police reveal plot to occupy Parliament

The turnout at last Friday's rally in Jakarta against Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama was far smaller than seen in previous protests.
The turnout at last Friday's rally in Jakarta against Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama was far smaller than seen in previous protests.PHOTO: AGENCE FRANCE-PRESSE

Treason suspects planned to ram truck into gate to enable takeover

JAKARTA • Five men arrested for treason ahead of last Friday's protests in Jakarta had plotted to have a truck ram into the back gate of Parliament and then letting their supporters take over the complex, police say.

The suspects - including Muhammad Al Khaththath, secretary-general of hardline group Forum of Muslims - had also mapped out a network of underground sewers that led into Parliament to see how best to gain entry, said police spokesman Argo Yuwono.

Police on Monday named Al Khaththath and four other senior members of various Muslim organisations as the suspects. They were identified as Diko Nugraha, Andre, Irwansyah and Zainuddin Arsyad.

The men were nabbed in raids starting last Thursday night, just hours before the protests went ahead peacefully without them.

Jakarta police told reporters their preliminary findings showed that Al Khaththath and Irwansyah had strategised "primarily to topple the legitimate government" of President Joko Widodo in two meetings in Kalibata and Menteng, both in Jakarta. The police did not disclose the dates of the meetings.

Jakarta police told reporters their preliminary findings showed that Al Khaththath and Irwansyah had strategised "primarily to topple the legitimate government" of President Joko Widodo in two meetings in Kalibata and Menteng, both in Jakarta.

In Kalibata, "they made detailed plans to occupy the Parliament building, and to enter it using a number of routes. A way to do it was to ram a vehicle like a truck into the back gate", according to Colonel Argo.

"Once the masses have got into the building, it will be difficult to drive them out," he said.

The men also discussed funding during the meeting, including money to carry out Friday's protest, such as for the rental of buses and other logistics, Col Argo added.

They estimated they would need three billion rupiah (S$315,000) to carry out their scheme to overthrow the government, he said.

Police are looking into possible financiers and how the money was to be distributed.

[US$225,000]All five men have been charged with treason, which carries a maximum life sentence under Indonesia's Criminal Code. They have denied the allegations and refused to sign the police dossiers, Col Argo said. Their supporters have called for their release.

During the raids, police seized several smartphones and laptops, a banner that read "Muslim governor for Jakarta", several posters and two books that allegedly recorded the suspects' spending for the foiled treason attempt, reported The Jakarta Post.

Col Argo maintained that the latest case is not linked to another group arrested before a Dec 2 rally last year over a similar charge to destabilise the government.

Last Friday's rally in Jakarta organised by Al Khaththath was the latest in a string of protests against Governor Basuki Tjahaja Purnama, better known as Ahok, for alleged blasphemy over comments about verses from the Quran.

The turnout was far smaller than seen in previous rallies. Basuki, a Christian Chinese, is competing against former education and culture minister Anies Baswedan in a run-off election on April 19. Basuki is a close ally of Mr Joko.

Vice-President Jusuf Kalla called on the protesters to respect the legal process and said they would not be allowed to dictate the agenda.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on April 05, 2017, with the headline 'Jakarta police reveal plot to occupy Parliament'. Print Edition | Subscribe