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Police interrogate 68 witnesses in Vina murder case amid mistrial allegations

Jakarta Globe - June 11, 2024

Antara, Bandung – The West Java Police have interrogated 68 witnesses in the 2016 murder case of Vina Dewi Arsita and her boyfriend Muhammad Rizky Rudiana after eight convicts, including seven serving life sentences, retracted their previous confessions, citing torture and abuse by investigators.

The Indonesian Bars Association (Peradi) recently offered legal assistance to one of the convicts after learning about inconsistencies between police findings and the prosecutor's indictment.

Peradi Chairman Otto Hasibuan said the association may file a judicial review with the Supreme Court to challenge the verdicts.

The ninth suspect in the case, who was arrested last month after almost eight years in hiding, has denied wrongdoing while the remaining convicts said they don't know him.

"The criminal investigation directorate has so far interrogated 68 witnesses with the support of experts," West Java Police spokesman Chief Comr. Jules Abraham Abast said in a statement.

The experts included psychologists to inquire about the mental state of the ninth suspect, identified as Pegi Setiawan, and his family members who were summoned as witnesses, he added.

"We hope that the use of forensic psychology will help enlighten the ongoing investigation into the crime," Jules said.

Jules said police are maintaining professionalism and transparency in investigating the case, noting that the National Police Commission and the National Commission for Human Rights are closely monitoring the police's handling of the case.

Police claimed that Vina and Rizky were murdered by 11 members of a motorcycle gang and that Vina was raped before her death on August 27, 2016, in the West Java town of Cirebon.

Their bodies were discovered on an elevated road in the town the following day.

Those claims are now under public scrutiny due to irregularities that have emerged. For instance, both the prosecutor's indictment and the judges' verdict identified 11 murderers, but the police recently stated that there were only nine suspects.

Additionally, there were discrepancies between the autopsy results and the statements in the indictment and verdict.

"The autopsy results determine that both victims sustained traumas, but the indictment states they suffered injuries from sharp weapons like a samurai sword. We need to review these inconsistencies before filing a judicial review," Otto said on Friday.

Another attorney representing five of the eight convicts also questioned the police's refusal to retrieve data from the security camera near the murder scene and to have all convicts undergo DNA tests to verify the rape claims.

Source: https://jakartaglobe.id/news/police-interrogate-68-witnesses-in-vina-murder-case-amid-mistrial-allegation