APSN Banner

Wrong man in the dock, says reporter's widow

South China Morning Post - September 4, 1997

Jakarta – The wife of murdered journalist Fuad Syarifuddin yesterday testified that police were holding the wrong man.

"I clearly saw the face of the person who came to my house at the eve of my husband's murder, and the face was very different from that of Iwik's," Marsiyem, the key witness in the trial of the man accused of killing her husband, was quoted by the Republika daily as telling a district court in Yogyakarta, central Java.

Ms Marsiyem was testifying at the trial of Dwi Sumaji, also known as Iwik, who has been accused of planning and carrying out the murder of Syarifruddin. The crime carries a maximum penalty of death.

The widow, who repeatedly broke down in tears, said the face and the build of the man she saw that night were "completely different" from Sumaji's.

"It is impossible that I can forget the face of my husband's killer," she told the court.

Syarifruddin died in August 1996 after three days in intensive care. He failed to regain consciousness after he was attacked and beaten by two strangers who visited his home.

The 33-year-old journalist had been writing about controversial land cases and corruption issues involving senior local officials. His colleagues said he had received death threats over the phone about his articles.

The National Commission on Human Rights has said police violated procedures in investigating the case and arresting Sumaji, giving him large amounts of alcohol at a nearby resort hotel and offering him a prostitute before arresting him. Sumaji said the police offered him money and a better job if he admitted to the killing.

Public attention on the case intensified after Captain Suko Hariyanto of the Yogyakarta police, who had been responsible for the murder investigation, was arrested in July for allegedly being involved in a drug ring.

[Fuad Muhammad Syafruddin (better known as Udin) was a journalist with the Yogyakarta based newspaper Bernas who at the time of his murder, was investigating a corruption case involving the regent of Bantul (about 10 kilometers from Yogyakarta), Sri Rosa Sudarmo. Despite the fact that Sudarmo was implicated in the murder, he was never questioned by police. Instead Dwi Sumaji, an employee of an advertising company, was plied with drink, provided with a prostitute, and promised money by police officials in return for confessing to Udin's murder. On at least three occasions courts had rejected the police case against Sumaji for lack of evidence - James Balowski.]