APSN Banner

Court clears two accused in student deaths

Reuters - June 15, 1998

Jakarta – An Indonesian military court on Monday agreed not to link two police officers with the fatal shooting of four university students during an anti-government demonstration last month.

But First Lieutenant Agus Tri Heryanto, 29, and Second Lieutenant Paryo, 38, will still face trial for wilfully disobeying or exceeding orders, the tribunal ruled.

The two officers are among 18 members of the security forces facing charges in connection with violence at Jakarta's Trisakti University on May 12, in which four students died from gunshot wounds and others were injured. The killings sparked widespread riots in Jakarta which were a major contributory factor in the resignation of former President Suharto on May 21.

The prosecutor's accusation linking the two defendants with the killings was dropped after the defence argued that it was not possible to connect the two with the deaths. A defence lawyer said the actual perpetrators had yet to be identified.

On the day of the demonstration, the police anti-riot mobile brigade and anti-riot military troops were assigned to maintain order. The court was told that gunshots were heard before the police mobile brigade was ordered to fire. "I heard the sound of gunshots before an order was given to fire into the air," testified Sergeant Cecep Dadang Solehuddin of the mobile brigade. "I don't know from where the gunshots came from or where it was directed at," he said.

Cecep said the company commander gave an order to fire into the air when they heard shouts from the crowd that there was a spy in their midst. "We were ordered to fire into the air as a warning. We fired three shots of rubber bullets," he said, adding the order was given by Lieutenant Agus Tri Heryanto. "After that, the masses became more violent, throwing rocks, bottles and bamboo spears at us. We were then ordered to fire rubber bullets into the air again and stopped on command," he said, adding that the crowd then retreated.

Asked whether the mobile brigade aimed their guns forward, he said: "No. Because in front of us were the anti-riot troops." He said he was given three blanks and 12 rubber bullets when he arrived at the demonstration and no live bullets were issued. After his platoon stopped firing, he said he again heard gunshots. "After we stopped firing, I heard the sound of gunshots, about three or four times, from the front, to my left.

Asked whether the shots were fired by his platoon, he said, "No." The court was filled with police officers and Trisakti University students. Those who could not enter the courtroom watched proceedings on two television monitors outside. The hearing continues on Tuesday.