Military shoot four detainees to death and beat prison guards in Sleman

AHRC

 

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) has received information from a local NGO, KontraS, regarding the shooting of four detainees in the Cebongan Correctional Facility by military officers. The shooting was an act of revenge by the officers for the murder of one of their colleagues which took place a couple of days prior to the shooting. In order to get in to the prison and the specific cell they were looking for, the officers assaulted prison guards and destroyed some prison facilities. There is a strong allegation that the shooting took place with prior knowledge of the police and the military.

CASE NARRATIVE:

According to information gathered by the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS), a man approached two guards stationed at the Cebongan Correctional Facility’s on-duty desk at 00.30am on 23 March 2013. He mentioned that the purpose of his visit was to borrow four detainees transferred on the previous day and provided a letter from the regional police to support his claim. The four detainees he was referring to were Hendrik Benyamin Angel Sahetapi (also known as Diki Ambon), Adrianus Candra Galaja (Dedi), Gamaliel Yermiyanto Rohi Riwu (Adi) and Yohanes Juan Manbait – all were suspects in the case of murder of First Sergeant Heru Santoso, a member of the military’s special forces (Kopassus) which took place in Hugo’s Café on 19 March 2013.

Upon the approval of the prison’s head of security, the two guards opened the gate of the prison to let the man with the official letter in. However, soon after the gate was opened, a group of armed men wearing civilian clothes rushed in. Witnesses told KontraS that the group comprised of around 17 masked men carrying assault rifles. They pointed their weapons, took hostages and threatened to bomb the prison.

As the armed men did not know the number of cell in which the four detainees they were looking for were detained, they beat the prison guards who were on duty at that time. One of the prison guards eventually told the armed men that the four detainees were detained in Block A, cell number 5, which at that time was occupied by 35 prisoners. KontraS reported that the armed men could not find the key to the cell after breaking open the glass shelf where the keys were stored so they picked up the correctional facility’s head of security who lives nearby.

The armed men managed to get to the correct cell after forcing the head of security to show them the way. After asking all detainees in the cell if any of them were involved in the killing of First Sergeant Heru Santoso, the armed men found the four individuals they were looking for. One of the armed men later shot the four detainees to death. Witnesses told KontraS that about 29 rounds were fired and the shooting only stopped when each victim was shot in the head. It was reported that CCTV recordings of the prison were destroyed by the shooter.

The Indonesian Military conducted an investigation on the shooting and found that 11 military officers were involved in the incident. All of the officers involved were assigned to Kopassus Group 2 in Kartosuro, Central Java, and thus were friends of the murdered First Sergeant Heru Santoso. As cited by the Jakarta Post, the military’s investigation team said that the shooting was revenge against ‘thugs who brutally killed First Sgt. Heru’. On 6 April 2013, the Chief of Yogyakarta Regional Police, Sabar Rahardjo and the Chief of Diponegoro Military Regional Command, Hardiono Saroso were removed from office.

The Indonesian National Police initially held an investigation on the shooting. However, in early April 2013 the Chief of Police told the media that the case would be transferred to the relevant military police for further investigation and legal action. This was based on a provision under Law No. 31 of 1997 which grants a Military Court the authority to examine criminal cases perpetrated by the members of the military. As of today the identities of the perpetrators are still withheld.

ADDITIONAL INFORMATION:

There has been an allegation that local high rank police and military officials orchestrated or, at least, had prior knowledge of the shooting. In its report, KontraS highlighted the fact that a confidential meeting took place between the then Chief of Yogyakarta Regional Police, Sabar Rahardjo and the Commander of Kopassus Group 2 and several other high rank officials of the Indonesian Military on 19 March 2013 following the murder of Sergeant Heru Santoso.

The allegation was also based on the unusual prompt transfer of the four victims from the Yogyakarta Regional Police to the Cebongan Correctional Facility on 22 March 2013, three days after the murder of First Sergeant Santoso in Hugo’s Café. Whilst there have been many instances in Indonesia where detainees are transferred from a police station to a correctional facility, such transfer is usually conducted within one or two months upon their arrest. Additionally, it was reported that the correctional facility’s security at that time was minimal and consisted of only eight guards were on duty despite an earlier demand from the institution to Yogyakarta Regional Police to provide backup security.

The transfer of the victims to the correctional facility was their second one after they were previously moved from the Sleman District Police to the Yogyakarta Regional Police station for security reasons. Upon the detention of the four victims in the Sleman District Police there was the sudden presence of dozens of uniformed members of the Indonesian military around the police station. KontraS highlighted that transferring the victims to the Cebongan Correctional Facility was an absurd decision, given the minimum security and shortage of staff at the institution.

SUGGESTED ACTION:


Please write to the listed authorities below and ask for these specific demands:

1. President, Human Rights General Director and Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission – to ensure this case is independently and effectively investigated and that the perpetrators are proportionately punished. Please also urge them to revise the current Military Court law so that military officers involved in crimes are tried and punished by civilian courts;
2. Chief of the Indonesian National Police – to halt the transfer of this case to the military and to continue the investigation they had started conducting;
3. Chief of the Indonesian Military – to allow the Indonesian National Police to hold an independent and effective investigation on this case and to be cooperative with the police during such investigation ;
4. Speaker of the House of Representatives – to revise the current Military Court law so that military officers involved in crimes are tried and punished by civilian courts.

Please also write to the Indonesian Consulate or Embassy in your area or country on this case whilst the AHRC is writing separately to the UN Rapporteur on Extrajudicial, Summary or Arbitrary Executions.

SAMPLE LETTER:

Dear ___________,

INDONESIA: Military shoot four detainees to death and beat prison guards in Sleman, Yogyakarta

Names of victims:
1. Hendrik Benyamin Angel Sahetapi, also known as Diki Ambon (31 year old);
2. Adrianus Candra Galaja, also known as Dedi (33 year old);
3. Gameliel Yermiyanto Rohi Riwu, also known as Adi (29 year old);
4. Yohanes Juan Manbait also known as Juan (38 year old);
5. Assaulted prison guards whose name cannot be confirmed.
Names of alleged perpetrators: 11 members of the Indonesian Military’s Special Forces (Kopassus) in Kartosuro, Central Java, whose names are withheld; former Chief of Yogyakarta Regional Police Sabar Rahardjo and Chief of Diponegoro Military Regional Command Hardiono Saroso.
Date of incident: 23 March 2013
Place of incident: Cebongan Correctional Facility, Sleman

I am writing to voice my deep concern regarding the shooting of four detainees in Cebongan Correctional Facility on 23 March 2013. I have received the information that at 00.30am on that day, around 17 armed men wearing masks and civilian clothes entered the facility in order to find Hendrik Benyamin Angel Sahetapi (Diki Ambon), Adrianus Candra Galaja (Dedi), Gameliel Yermiyanto Rohi Riwu (Adi) and Yohanes Juan Manbait, all suspects in the case of murder of First Sergeant Heru Santoso, a member of the Indonesian Military’s Special Forces (Kopassus). The armed men managed to get in to the correctional facility after one of them approached the prison guards securing the main gate and provided them with a letter from the Yogyakarta Regional Police.

I have been informed that the armed men beat the prison guards on duty at that time to find out the location of the cell where Diki Ambon and his friends were being detained. One of the assaulted prison guards eventually told the armed men that the persons they were looking for were detained in Block A, cell number 5. The armed men later destroyed the glass shelf in which the keys were kept but they could not find the correct one. They then forced it from the facility’s head of security and ordered him to show the way to the relevant cell.

Soon after the armed men found Diki Ambon and his friends, one of them opened fire against the four detainees and shot them to death. Information gathered by local NGO KontraS reveals that there were about 29 rounds were fired and the shooting only stopped when each victim was shot in the head. It was reported that CCTV recordings of the prison were destroyed by the shooter.

I am aware that there is strong allegation that the shooting took place with the prior knowledge of high ranking officials at the Yogyakarta Regional Police as well the Indonesian Military, including the Commander of Kopassus Group 2. KontraS pointed out the fact, for instance, that a confidential meeting took place between the then Chief of Yogyakarta Regional Police Sabar Rahardjo and high rank officials of the Indonesian Military as well as the Kopassus on 19 March 2013 following the murder of First Sergeant Heru Santoso. In addition, KontraS pointed out that the transfer of the four detainees to Cebongan Correctional Facility from Yogyakarta Regional Police is ‘an unusual decision, both in terms of time, process and safety considerations’. According to the common practice in Indonesia, a criminal suspect is usually held in the police station for about one to two months before later being transferred to a correctional facility. However, in this case the victims were transferred to Cebongan Correctional Facility only three days after they were arrested on 19 May 2013.

There had been concern on the safety of the four victims since the beginning of their detention. It was reported that they were initially detained at Sleman District police station yet were later moved to Yogyakarta Regional Police for security reasons - dozens of uniformed members of the military suddenly came to Sleman police station upon the victims’ detention there. Transferring the victims for the second time to Cebongan Correctional Facility is therefore an absurd decision, because the facility is suffering from shortage of staff and has very minimal security compared to Yogyakarta Police station.

I am aware that the Indonesian Military had conducted an investigation on this case and came to the conclusion that 11 officers of Kopassus assigned at Kartosuro, Central Java, were involved in the shooting. I am also aware that a legal process against those Kopassus officers is taking place. However, I am concerned with the fact that the legal process is partial in the sense that it is conducted under the military criminal justice system.

I am not questioning the legality of such process as I am well informed that it is regulated under the Indonesian Law No. 31 Year 1997 which grants the Military Court to examine criminal cases perpetrated by the military members. Yet I strongly believe such partial criminal justice system is not in accordance with the principle of equality before the law as well as the impartiality of the judiciary. Moreover, the partial criminal system by the military has been proven to always come hand in hand with non-transparency of the process and lenient punishment of the perpetrators. I believe these are several reasons why the UN Human Rights Committee also emphasises that the jurisdiction of the military court should be limited only to try offences of a strictly military nature.

Given these above, I am urging you to ensure this case to be independently and effectively investigated and that the perpetrators are proportionately punished. The investigation should not only focus on the 11 military members named by the Indonesian military but also on the allegation that the shooting took place with prior knowledge of officials at Yogyakarta Regional Police and the Indonesian Military. In this opportunity, I am also calling you to revise the current law on Military Court in accordance with international human rights standards.

I look forward to your swift and positive response on this matter.

Yours sincerely,

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PLEASE SEND YOUR LETTERS TO:

1. Mr. Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono
President of Republic of Indonesia
Jl. Veteran No. 16
Jakarta Pusat
INDONESIA
Tel: +62 21 386 3777, 350 3088
Fax: + 62 21 344 2223, 3483 4759
E-mail: presiden@ri.go.id

2. Ms. Harkristuti Harkrisnowo
General Director of Human Rights
Ministry of Law and Human Rights
Jl. HR Rasuna Said Kav. 6-7
Kuningan, Jakarta 12940
INDONESIA
Tel: +62 21 525 3006, 525 3889
Fax: +62 21 525 3095

3. Gen. Timur Pradopo
Chief of the Indonesian National Police
Jl. Trunojoyo No. 3
Kebayoran Baru, Jakarta Selatan 12110
INDONESIA
Tel: +62 21 384 8537, 726 0306
Fax: +62 21 7220 669
E-mail: info@polri.go.id

4. Mr. Agus Suhartono
Commander-in-Chief of the Indonesian Military
Mabes TNI
Cilangkap, East Jakarta
INDONESIA
Tel: +62 21 8459 1243
Fax: +62 21 845 6805

5. Ms. Siti Nur Laila
Chairperson of the National Human Rights Commission
Jl. Latuharhary No.4-B
Jakarta 10310
INDONESIA
Tel: +62 21 392 5227-30
Fax: +62 21 392 5227
Email: info@komnas.go.id

6. Mr. Marzuki Alie
Speaker of the House of Representatives
Gedung Nusantara III
Jl. Jenderal Gatot Subroto
Jakarta 10270
INDONESIA
Tel: +62 21 575 5048, 575 6041
Fax: +62 21 575 6379
E-mail: set_tu_ketua@dpr.go.id, baleg@dpr.go.id

Thank you.