Indonesia’s Police Scandal Widens in Shocking New Directions
Women, dirty business suspected of triggering police killing
Indonesia’s National Police-sex-murder scandal involving the arrest of General Ferdy Sambo has dragged many of his colleagues into the vortex, including a beautiful policewoman rumored to be Sambo’s mistress amid other accusations that he was deeply involved in the gambling business and managing a crystal methamphetamine ring.
The two-star general, who formerly headed the internal affairs division, is accused of faking a shootout between a junior officer, Brigadier Nofriansyah Yosua Hutabarat, and his bodyguard Bharada Richard Eliezer in which Yosua was killed on July 8 on the pretext that Yosua was sexually harassing Sambo’s wife, Puteri Candrawati.
News of the killing emerged slowly amid allegations that as many as 30 officers including three police generals had helped to obscure evidence and cover it up. Apart from Sambo, three other people have been named directly as suspects in the murder, namely Bharada Eliezer, Bripka Ricky Rizal, and Kuat Ma'ruf, a driver who allegedly witnessed the shooting and helped to fake it. The four were charged with premeditated murder with a maximum penalty of death, or life imprisonment, or a maximum sentence of 20 years in prison.
Kamaruddin Simanjuntak, the attorney for the dead officer’s family, said the motive for Yosua's murder actually was his knowledge that the general, one of the national police’s most-feared officials, was involved in the gambling business and the production of crystal meth. Yosua, the attorney charged, also reported Sambo’s alleged infidelity to Sambo’s wife. Other rumors say Yosua was caught having an affair with Puteri Candrawati, which triggered Sambo’s fury and the killing. It later transpired that Puteri Candrawati may have assisted her husband in attempting to bribe participants to over up the real events of Yosua’s killing.
"There are other women's motives as well,” Kamaruddin said. “Yosua gave information to Puteri Candrawati that Sambo was going to his mistress's house." The mistress is alleged to be a beautiful police officer named Rita Yuliana (below), who has not commented on the issue. The 30-year-old police officer, who serves at the Directorate of Special Criminal Investigation, has been featured in scores of stories in the Jakarta press.
The case has badly shaken the national police, with President Joko Widodo meeting personally with the chief, General Listyo Sigit Prabowo, and telling him to clean up the force, which has long been described as one of the most corrupt and unprofessional in Southeast Asia.
Many see the naming of Sambo as a murder suspect as a tough test for the institution because this is the first time a high-ranking officer has been identified as involved in a murder. That has exposed a culture of violence and case engineering within the institution, which has occurred amid a culture of impunity in which cases are often fabricated amid torture and extrajudicial killings.
After Sambo was detained at the Police Headquarters, Listyo dissolved a special task force he chaired consisting of several high and middle-level officers, some of whom were involved in Yosua's death case.
Bambang Rukmino, an observer with the Institute for Security and Strategic Studies, said the case is not solely a matter of personnel, but of institutions. This incident, he said, involved cross-police units ranging from regional units, and detectives, to internal division. The National Police have examined at least 25 personnel suspected of violating the code of ethics in investigating the case, 12 of whom are currently being held in a special place.
Coordinating Minister for Political Law and Human Rights Mahfud MD said before the case became public, Sambo had created a "psychological trap" for some parties to make them believe Yosua had abused his wife. Sambo spread the false news, including to the National Police Commission, the Human Rights Commission, several members of the House of Representatives, and even some of his colleagues from the police.
"Not many people know that (there are) psychological traps for certain people to support shooting (scenarios)," said Mahfud MD. "He was crying in front of them as if he was a victim,"
Yosua's family found many irregularities including a changed date of the incident, several cuts on Yosua's body and two broken fingers. A re-autopsy was performed. The police then corrected the statements, saying there was no exchange of fire or allegations of sexual harassment.
The special team investigating the affair indicated suspicions that Putri's report of sexual harassment was part of the obstruction of justice to cover up the premeditated murder case against Yosua. The police are still investigating this allegation to determine Putri's status.
Bharada Eliezer's former attorney Deolipa Yumara said Putri and Sambo had promised to give Rp1 billion (U$68,178,000) to Bharada Eliezer and Rp 500 million each to Brigadiers Ricky and Kuat. According to the original plan, the money was to be given after the police buried the murder investigation. But unexpectedly the case received public scrutiny, the national police chief formed a special team, and their lies were exposed.
However, the attorney Kamaruddin Simanjuntak said the funds prepared by Sambo to cover this case reached Rp5 billion. "The information I got was that the funds prepared (by Sambo) were Rp5 billion. So apart from being (given) to the suspect, it was also prepared for people in other institutions," Simanjuntak said. Deputy Chairperson of the Witness and Victim Protection Agency (LPSK) Edwin Partogi revealed that one of his officers was given "thick envelopes" suspected of being bribes after meeting with Sambo, but he refused the bribe.
Sambo in his latest statement to the investigator stated that the murder was motivated by anger because Yosua had committed an act that "hurt the dignity" of his wife when they were in Magelang, a city about 500 km from Jakarta. Sambo, Putri, and Yosua, he stated, were in the city for several days, during which time Sambo and his wife also had a chance to celebrate their wedding anniversary. Sambo returned to Jakarta on July 7 by plane, while his wife and a number of bodyguards, including Yosua returned to Jakarta from Magelang the next day.