Dony Indra Ramadhan, Bandung – The appointment of Major General Untung Budiharto as Jakarta military commander (Pangdam Jaya) has attracted public attention because of his background as a former member of the Rose Team (Tim Mawar). TNI (Indonesian military) chief General Andika Perkasa has responded to this attention. What does he say?
"Yeah Pangdam Jaya, actually in legal terms he's already served [his sentence] which at the time was handed down by the [military] tribunal", said Perkasa during an event at the Siliwangi III Rindam Jaya Command Headquarters in Bandung city on Wednesday January 12.
According to Perkasa, the case which occurred a long time ago has been ruled on by a court. Moreover back then, said Perkasa, the court was still called the Supreme Military Tribunal.
"It has already been ruled on and upheld under law and [the sentence] has been served", he said.
Because of this, said Perkasa, in legal terms there are no longer any problems related to Budiharto. "So indeed in legal terms there is nothing else that then must be done by those who at that time received punishments, yeah", he said.
Earlier, Perkasa replaced Jakarta military commander Major General Mulyo Aji with Budiharto. Aji was promoted to a three-star general’s job as the coordinating ministerial secretary for political and legal affairs.
"Correct", said Perkasa when asked by Detik.com for confirmation on Thursday January 6.
The Jakarta military commander rotation was detailed in TNI Commander Decree Number Kep/5/I/2022 on the Termination and Appointment of Posts in the Indonesian Military. The letter was signed by TNI General Secretariat chief Brigadier General Edy Rochmatullah on Tuesday January 4.
The appointment however has attracted public attention. The Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) for example is disappointed because an alleged gross human rights violator has again joined the long list of former Rose Team members who have been given strategic positions.
"I want to express my deep disappointment because the government has again failed to fulfill its commitment to fully resolve past cases of gross human rights violations", said Kontras Coordinator Fatia Maulidiyanti during a virtual press conference on Friday January 7.
"Yet another disappointment with the appointment of several alleged gross human rights perpetrators to strategic positions, including among others [Defense Minister] Prabowo [Subianto], [former Coordinating Security Minister] Wiranto, [presidential advisor] Hendropriyono and so on. And in 2021 this was added to by former Rose Team members who joined the ranks of the Defense Ministry. Now, there is yet another former Rose Team member who has [been promoted], occupying the post of Pangdam Jaya, which is also a strategic position", she continued.
Between 1997 and 1998 as many as 23 pro-democracy activists were abducted by members of the Army's Special Forces (Kopassus). After extended periods of detention – in many cases the victims were severely tortured – most were released although 13 remain missing and are presumed dead. Former Kopassus commander Lieutenant General Prabowo Subianto who was at the time President Suharto's son-in-law, has admitted to ordering the abductions but denies ordering their torture and claims they were all released alive and well. In April 1999, 11 low-ranking Kopassus officers including Untung Budiharto were tried by a military court for the kidnappings and given sentences of between a year and 22 months in prison, although six of them were allowed to remain in the army. Prabowo himself was discharged from the military for ordering the abductions but has never been tried in court.
[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Panglima TNI Respons Sorotan Eks Tim Mawar Mayjen Untung Jadi Pangdam Jaya".]