Dwi Argo Santosa, Yustinus Paat, Jakarta – A low-ranking policeman accused of fatally shooting fellow officer Nofriansyah Yosua Hutabarat has been told by alleged mastermind Ferdy Sambo that he would walk away from the murder without any legal consequence, the National Police chief told lawmakers on Wednesday.
Second Patrolman Richard Eliezer initially said Yosua was killed in a shootout but he retracted his testimony midway through the investigation upon learning that he was the sole suspect in the case.
Richard eventually admitted that Yosua was killed in a cold-blooded execution on the order of Ferdy, causing a new twist in the ongoing investigation that gains national attention, Police Chief Listyo Sigit Prabowo said in a hearing with the House of Representatives Legal Commission at the legislature compound in Jakarta.
"It appears that Richard was promised by FS that the latter will help discontinue the case. But in fact, Richard remains a suspect and he finally decided to provide us with honest and open testimonies," Listyo said, referring to Ferdy by his initials.
"This is the turning point that canceled out the whole information and testimonies we had at that time," he added.
Richard's new testimony was so crucial that Listyo needed to hear it himself and asked investigators to bring the suspect to him and retell the story, the police chief said.
The initial chaotic handling of the case and the fact that it took three days after Yosua's death until police first made public the embarrassing scandal have caused public outrage and prompted the family of the victim to file a murder case.
President Joko Widodo has urged the National Police to investigate the case thoroughly and professionally while the National Commission for Human Rights also stepped in to monitor the whole investigation.
Listyo, who later appointed a new investigation team, admitted the serious damage resulting from improper conduct by his men in the wake of the investigation, telling lawmakers "it's a bitter pill for us to take".
Inquiry by the new team found that Ferdy attempted to stage the crime scene by using Yosua's gun to fire randomly at the wall as if a shootout had occurred before his death.
Following the new twist, Ferdy was named a murder suspect along with his wife Putri Candrawathi, their driver Kuat Ma'ruf, and an officer identified as Brigadier Ricky Rizal.
All five suspects are charged with premeditated murder which carries a maximum punishment of death.
The motive for the murder has something to do with a personal feud between Ferdy and the victim, which also involved Ferdy's wife, but Listyo declined to say any further. "The court hearings will tell all," he said.
More than 30 officers have been placed on administrative duty to undergo internal investigation and six middle to high-ranking officers including Ferdy are facing dishonorable discharge.
The police chief said Ferdy was also charged with obstruction of justice and tampering with physical evidence such as the security camera at the crime scene. The ethics probe runs parallel with the criminal investigation.
Ferdy is a two-star police general who headed the National Police's profession and security division when the July 8 murder occurred at his official residence in South Jakarta. Both the victim and the alleged shooter worked as his assistants.
Earlier this month, an attorney for Richard said that his client was promised Rp 1 billion in hush money by Ferdy. Muhammad Burhanuddin also said Ferdy has told his client that he would make sure investigators will give up the case.
Richard has now dismissed Burhanuddin and appointed new attorney Ronny Talapessy.