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Treason suspects in Indonesia plotted to ram truck into Parliament complex

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Five men arrested by Indonesian police wanted to overthrow government

The 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 let their supporters take over the complex, police said.

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 - hours before the protests went ahead peacefully without them.

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

The spokesman did not disclose the dates of the meetings.

In Kalibata, "they made detailed plans to occupy the Parliament building... 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, including money to carry out Friday's protest, he said.

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

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

All five men were charged with treason, which carries a maximum life sentence under Indonesia's Criminal Code.

They denied the allegations and refused to sign the police dossiers, Col Argo said.

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.

Friday's rally, organised by Al Khaththath, was the latest in the string of protests against 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.