June 11, 2019 / 11:54 AM / 2 months ago

Indonesian suspects detail alleged plot to kill top officials

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesian police on Tuesday aired video testimony from three suspects who alleged a retired soldier backing the political opposition had offered them money and, in one case, a family vacation to join a plot to kill government officials.Last month, police arrested six people suspected of plotting to assassinate four security officials and a pollster during chaos surrounding protests against the confirmation of President Joko Widodo’s election victory.

The targets included Indonesia’s chief security minister, the head of the intelligence agency, chief maritime minister and a special presidential security adviser, police said.

At a news conference on Tuesday, police aired video testimony from the suspects, whose faces were partly obscured and with some details of their testimony bleeped out.

The suspects claimed the mastermind behind the plot was retired major general Kivlan Zen, a vocal supporter of opposition leader and former general Prabowo Subianto. He was also once a military aide to the opposition leader.

Prabowo’s campaign team declined to comment on Tuesday.The suspects alleged Zen had picked the targets they were supposed to assassinate during several meetings, including one at a mosque.

Police have charged Zen with illegally possessing weapons and he is currently being detained and unavailable for comment.

Zen’s lawyer said the allegations against his client were politically motivated and the retired soldier had given money to the suspects to stage a peaceful rally.

One of the alleged hitmen said he was paid 55 million rupiah ($3,866) to kill the four officials.

Another said in the video testimony “after executing those people, Kivlan said he would guarantee his wife and children’s livelihood, and they would also be able to vacation anywhere”.

Police also showed videos of some of the weapons they had seized, including an M4 assault rifle, being tested at a range.

Indonesia has seen a spike in political tensions since Widodo was confirmed the winner of last month’s presidential election, a result contested by the opposition which claims there was widespread cheating.

During several nights of unrest last month, eight people were killed and more than 900 wounded in clashes between supporters of defeated presidential candidate Prabowo and security forces.

Widodo’s chief of staff, Moeldoko, told Reuters in an interview on May 29 that authorities believed several different groups coordinated plans to exploit political rallies last month to cause maximum chaos.

Additional reporting by Kanupriya Kapoor and Jessica Damiana; Writing by Ed Davies; Editing by Nick Macfie

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