Ex-general behind Jakarta assassination plot: Police

Retired general Kivlan Zen, who is in police custody, was allegedly behind the plot to kill four senior state officials and a high-profile pollster. Protesters shooting fireworks at police during clashes in Jakarta last month. According to statements
Protesters shooting fireworks at police during clashes in Jakarta last month. According to statements of suspected hitmen currently in police custody, the assassinations were supposed to take place amid the chaos of the riots. ST PHOTO: ARIFFIN JAMAR
Retired general Kivlan Zen, who is in police custody, was allegedly behind the plot to kill four senior state officials and a high-profile pollster. Protesters shooting fireworks at police during clashes in Jakarta last month. According to statements
Retired general Kivlan Zen, who is in police custody, was allegedly behind the plot to kill four senior state officials and a high-profile pollster. PHOTO: KIVLAN ZEN/FACEBOOK

Second suspect, believed to be involved in procurement of firearms, said to be PPP politician

Retired Indonesian army general Kivlan Zen was behind the plot to assassinate four senior state officials, as well as a high-profile pollster, during the riots in Jakarta last month, said the police yesterday.

At a press conference, Adjunct Chief Police Commissioner Ade Ary Syam Indradi disclosed that a local politician with the initials HM was also involved in the procurement of firearms for the alleged hit.

Indonesian police typically do not name suspects in ongoing investigations, but several local media reports identified the politician as United Development Party (PPP) cadre member Habil Marati.

The PPP is one of nine political parties that nominated President Joko Widodo for re-election.

Both men are now in police custody pending further investigations, said Commissioner Ade, who is Jakarta police deputy director for general criminal investigations.

"Based on facts, the testimony of witnesses and evidence, they consorted to direct the premeditated murder of four national figures and the executive director of a survey institute," he added.

Commissioner Ade confirmed that the officials on the hit list were Political, Legal and Security Affairs Coordinating Minister Wiranto; Maritime Affairs Coordinating Minister Luhut Pandjaitan; Indonesia's spy chief Budi Gunawan; and presidential aide Gories Mere.

 
 
 

Jakarta-based political consulting firm Charta Politika's executive director Yunarto Wijaya was the fifth target. He is also a regular TV pundit.

Commissioner Ade did not explain why the five men were targeted for assassination.

Mr Kivlan, who last held the rank of major-general, was former chief of the Army Strategic Reserve Command and a close ally of presidential candidate Prabowo Subianto.

The latter, himself a former army general, has refused to concede the April 17 election. The General Elections Commission (KPU) has declared that Mr Joko won the polls.

Street protests mounted by groups supporting Mr Prabowo against the KPU election results released on May 21 quickly escalated into widespread unrest across the capital, Jakarta, for two days.

Preliminary investigations indicate that the perpetrators of the riots were simply pawns and "paid thugs" in a larger conspiracy to de-legitimise the vote count, Mr Wiranto said last month.

It is still unclear if Mr Kivlan, who is also facing illegal firearm possession and treason charges, orchestrated the riots, but latest developments indicate that he had masterminded the assassination attempt.

Referring to statements of suspected hitmen currently in police custody, Commissioner Ade said Mr Kivlan allegedly provided 150 million rupiah (S$14,400) to one of them to procure five firearms for the assassination.

The cash was originally from Mr Habil, who had handed to Mr Kivlan a total of $15,000 in Singapore banknotes specifically to buy firearms, including "M-4 or M-16" rifles from Aceh province. The M-4 carbine assault rifle is a shorter and lighter variant of the American-made M-16.

Mr Habil was arrested in his South Jakarta home on May 29.

The retired general also provided the names of the five targets to the hitmen, and gave them five million rupiah to conduct surveillance as part of preparations for the killing.

"Mr Kivlan took out his mobile phone and showed the address and photo of Pak Yunarto from the quick count institution (Charta Politika)," said Commissioner Ade, reading out from the statement of a suspect he identified only as IR.

According to the statements, the plot was hatched as early as April this year, and was supposed to take place amid the chaos of the riots.

National police spokesman Mohammad Iqbal, who was at the same press conference yesterday, said a total of 233 police officers were injured during the riots that took place between May 21 and May 23.

Eight of them are still warded in hospital.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on June 12, 2019, with the headline 'Ex-general behind Jakarta assassination plot: Police'. Print Edition | Subscribe