Pacific Scoop

Indonesian police accused of ‘lacking courage’ in execution-style prison killings

Kopassus ...  an elite Indonesian force

Kopassus … an elite Indonesian force used against indigenous peoples of Timor-Leste and West Papua have been implicated in prison killings. Image: Kopassus/PS

Pacific Scoop:
Report – By Yuliasri Perdani and Bambang Muryanto in Jakarta

Indonesia’s National Police have been criticised for showing restraint in the investigation of an execution-style murder of four detainees in the Cebongan Penitentiary, Sleman, Yogyakarta over the weekend.

The National Police Commission (Kompolnas) said the police had appeared to be under a tremendous amount of pressure in its investigation, especially after allegations that the Army’s Special Forces (Kopassus) could have been involved in the murder.

“This is more about the culture of superiority between the two corps. Since the National Police became a separate entity from the Indonesian military in 2000, the police still perceive the military as their  ‘older brother’,” Kompolnas commissioner M. Nasser said.

Early on Saturday, 17 unidentified assailants ransacked the Cebongan Penitentiary and shot dead four inmates accused of murdering a former member of Kopassus.

The inmates, identified as Hendrik Angel Sahetapi, Adrianus Candra Galaga, Yohanes Juan Mambait and Gamalil Yermiayanto Rohi Riwuwere, were accused of fatally wounding First Sgt. Heru Santoso at a cafà in Yogyakarta on March 19.

Speculation is rife that the attack was a planned act of retaliation, with allegations that only elite members of the military could have carried out such a swift and precise operation.

Eyewitness accounts have said that the entire attack took only 15 minutes. A witness said that one of the assailants served as a time keeper as he kept checking his watch while other members of the group carried out the murders.

Prior knowledge
The police was also accused of having prior knowledge about a plan to kill the four detainees and decided to transfer them to the penitentiary.

Warden of the facility, B. Sukamto Harto, had requested additional security personnel from the Yogyakarta Police and the local military command, fearing a repeat of the attack by soldiers on the Ogan Komering Ulu Police Headquarters in South Sumatra earlier this month.

No such security reinforcements were provided.

If members of the TNI were involved in the execution-style murder, it would add to the long-list of unresolved violence involving soldiers.

In April 2012, more than 200 members of a motorbike gang, who were suspected of being members of the military based on their crew cut hairstyles and well-built bodies, launched a series of attacks in Jakarta that claimed the lives of three people and injured 15 others.
Rights watchdog Imparsial reported that only four soldiers were being held responsible for the brutal assaults.

Earlier this month, nearly 100 soldiers from a training center in Baturaja, Ogan Komering Ulu, attacked police offices in the regency in connection to the killing of a soldier in January. So far, 20 soldiers from the military command’s 15/76 Field Artillery Battalion (Yon Armed) have been named suspects.

‘Psychological barrier’
National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar said that the police faced no “psychological barrier” in investigating the case.

“We only face technical difficulties, considering that the attack was conducted at night, the perpetrators donned masks and they got rid of the Closed Circuit Television [CCTV] recording,” Boy said.

The Yogyakarta Police provided details that indicated the assailants could be members of the military.

“The assailants covered their faces, wore black vests, black canvas shoes and long boots, and also blue and black jeans. They rode in two cars, one black and the other silver. We also found 31 bullet casings, including 19 bullet projectiles, on the crime scene.

Those are 7.62 mm calibre bullet projectiles,” Yogyakarta Police spokeswoman Adj. Sr. Comr. Anny Pudjiastuti said.

Source: The Jakarta Post


  1. Imanuel Danimeke Paragaye, 28. March 2013, 10:32

    Execution-style murders of four detainees in prison Cebongan, Sleman, Yogyakarta, has added to the long list of violence involving troops because based on the details in the scene is clear that members of the military are involved in the execution-style killings, but the police seem to cover. Such action is not the first time carried out by Indonesian military but in other cases such as in Papua as violence against civilians by the military always happen but action – action is always covered with a variety of excuses, so in this case would not be in the finish because that’s how Indonesian military.

  2. Uncas, 7. April 2013, 19:19

    One should wonder how coincidental the fact is that at least three out of the four victims in this case are Melanesian, rather than Asian, Indonesians.