Alleged hitman names former Indonesian army general Kivlan Zen as mastermind of assassination plot

JAKARTA - A hitman allegedly hired to assassinate four high-profile state officials during riots in Jakarta last month has named former army general Kivlan Zen, a close ally of losing presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto, as the mastermind of the plot.

In an interview with Indonesia's leading news magazine, Tempo, Mr Iwan Kurniawan said the murder plot was hatched during a casual discussion at a restaurant in North Jakarta.

The officials targeted were Coordinating Minister for Politics, Law and Security Affairs Wiranto, Coordinating Minister for Maritime Affairs Luhut Pandjaitan, State Intelligence Agency chief Budi Gunawan and Presidential Special Staff on Intelligence and Security adviser Gories Mere. None of the men were hurt.

Major-General Kivlan Zen, the former chief of the Army Strategic Reserves Command (Kostrad), has denied the accusation.

"I'm not aware of it," he said at the police's criminal investigation agency on May 29, according to Tempo.

He is, however, in custody because of offences of illegal arms and treason in conjunction with "people power" rallies held last month to call for President Joko Widodo and his running mate to be disqualified from the presidential race.

Mr Iwan, one of the suspects apprehended, told Tempo the initial assignment was to kill a publicist of President Widodo's, and he was surprised to be given the other four names.

"Hearing the names of the targets soon got me shaking," he was quoted as saying.

Mr Iwan claimed he had tried to avoid Maj-Gen Kivlan so he would not be asked to lead the assassination plan.

The alleged plot, aimed at destabilising the country, was first exposed by the national police on May 28 after they arrested six suspects who they said were linked to the riots.

The unrest followed the announcement on May 21 by the elections commission that Mr Joko had won the April 17 election over his old rival, Mr Prabowo.

Eight people died and more than 700 were injured.

The national police said the street violence was a deliberate and coordinated strike, planned through WhatsApp.

Gen Wiranto said "paid thugs" received between 200,000 rupiah (S$19) and 500,000 rupiah to foment unrest.

Among the rioters were domestic militants loyal to the Islamic State in Iraq and Syria, said the police.

According to news reports, Maj-Gen Kivlan was reported to the police in May by a resident of Serang, Banten named Mr Jalaludin, for spreading false news.

Maj-Gen Kivlan is a close ally of Mr Prabowo's and was his senior at the Military Academy in Magelang, Central Java. The retired general was also on Mr Prabowo's presidential campaign team in 2014, though not this year's.

His lawyer, Mr Muhammad Yuntri, has rejected Mr Iwan's account and said his client did not order the assassinations.

"It doesn't make sense for Pak Kivlan to arrange a murder plot against national figures," he was quoted as saying by Tempo.

National police spokesman Dedi Prasetyo could not be reached immediately for comment.

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