Jakarta – The police in Central Mamuju regency, West Sulawesi, have launched an investigation into the death of Demas Laira, 28, an online media journalist who was found dead by a roadside last week.
It is the second reported case of a media worker being found dead by a roadside in recent weeks. In July a video editor for private TV station Metro TV was found dead near the Pesanggrahan Jakarta outer ring road, the police concluded that the case was suicide.
Demas' body was found lying at the side of Jl. Trans Sulawesi in Salobijau hamlet, Karossa district, Central Mamuju, at around 2 a.m. local time on Thursday, with stab wounds to his chest, back, stomach and arms.
He was found near his motorbike, which was still running at that time. His journalist identification cards from different online media outlets, personal ID card (KTP), driver's license and several ATM cards were still with him, while his phone was missing.
"We have investigated the scene, collected evidence and questioned a number of witnesses," Central Mamuju Police criminal investigation unit head First. Insp. Agung Setyo Negoro said on Friday, as quoted by kompas.com.Agung said the police had found a shoe near the scene, which he said might lead to the alleged murderer.
A Salobijau resident, identified as Dian, said local residents had heard screams for help before they found Demas' body.
"At first, residents heard screams for help from behind the hill. As they were curious, they rushed to the location and found the victim had died near his motorbike," Dian said on Sunday.
Demas' family do not believe he was a victim of a robbery since he still had his belongings.
"We are very sure that the perpetrator was not alone. We hope the police can find and bring them to court to be punished accordingly," said a family member, Yosi.
Yosi said that before his death, Demas was on his way home from the city of Palu. Demas' older sister, Tabita, said Demas had called the family, saying that he would be home in the afternoon.
"But by the next morning, he still hadn't arrived home. We were worried because we saw on Facebook that [a body] was found lying on the road," said Tabita.
The family was informed by the police when Demas' body was taken to the Central Mamuju Regional General Hospital.
Mursalim Majid from the Indonesian Journalists Association (PWI) in West Sulawesi said a post-mortem examination found 17 stab wounds on the victim's body.
He condemned the incident, saying his association would meet with West Sulawesi Police chief Insp. Gen. Eko Budi Sampurno to urge him to fully investigate the murder.
"The police must immediately reveal the motive and arrest the perpetrators," Mursalim said on Friday, as quoted by Antara news agency. (syk)