Stefani Wijaya, Muhammad Aulia, Jakarta – A low-ranking policeman has been charged with premeditated murder that carries the maximum punishment of death in the continuing saga of a protracted investigation into the murder of another officer whose body was found last month in the official residence of a police general.
Brigadier Ricky Rizal was named a suspect of premeditated murder and immediately detained, the National Police announced on Sunday.
There was no mention of the name during the initial police investigation after Brigadier Nopryansah Yosua Hutabarat was found dead in South Jakarta on July 8.
Instead police claimed Yosua was killed in a shootout with another policeman identified as Second Patrolman Richard Eliezer Lumiu and it took days before they finally launched a murder probe and named Richard as the first suspect in the case.
Ricky, Richard, and the slain policeman all worked for Insp. Gen. Ferdy Sambo, the head of the National Police's Internal Profession and Security Division.
Police initially said Yosua was killed in a shootout after he was caught harassing Ferdy's wife at the police general's official residence at the Duren Tiga housing complex in South Jakarta.
The claim instantly drew condemnation and angry response from Yosua's family who hired lawyers, filed a murder case, and demanded a second autopsy of the body.
The twists and turns that ensued prompted the National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas HAM) to step in. Representatives of the commission were present when Yosua's body was exhumed and when the autopsy was conducted in the province of Jambi last month.
The National Police said 25 officers have been interrogated in connection with Yosua's murder case. In another development, 10 high-ranking officers were stripped of their posts for "unprofessional conducts" in their handling of the case.
Ferdy was taken to the Mobile Brigade (Brimob) headquarters in the West Java town of Depok for a lengthy questioning on Sunday but police didn't say if the police general is now a suspect.
The two suspects were previously assigned as Ferdy's personal assistants. Ricky worked as a chauffeur for Ferdy's family but few details have emerged about him.
Richard is expected to hand his resignation letter to the National Police on Monday after he agreed to become a whistle blower in the case, a lawyer for the suspect has said.
He is charged with murder and could face a maximum sentence of 15 years in prison if convicted.
Richard is currently requesting help from the Witness and Victim Protection Agency, or LPSK, after he told his defense team that he was not the sole person who should have been implicated in the murder case, lawyer Burhanuddin said.
But the lawyer declined to go into details, saying he didn't want to go ahead of the police in informing new findings in the case.
"It's very important for him to get the protection because he's now a key witness despite the fact that he's also a suspect. We have agreed that he will come forward as a justice collaborator," Deolipa Yumara, another lawyer for Richard, said on Saturday.
Meanwhile, Ferdy is being isolated for 30 days at the Brimob headquarters according to the procedure to allow a smooth investigation of his alleged role in the case, National Police Commission Head Benny Mamoto said on Sunday.
"The decision is of course meant to support the ongoing investigation," Benny said.
The National Police apparently avoided the term detention for Ferdy despite the lengthy period he is going to spend at the facility in Depok.
They also provided no explanation why Ferdy is entitled to have three, or possibly more policemen working as personal assistants for him and the family.