Banjir Ambarita – The military in Papua has denied that an officer stabbed a civilian, leading to his death, on board a passenger ship heading from Nabire to Manokwari on Sunday.
The dead man's mother, however, claims the officer stabbed him during an argument, causing him to fall overboard.
Spokesman Lt. Col. Ali Hamdan Bogra on Monday said that investigations into Chief Sgt. Hans Aru were under way in connection with the suspicious death of Derek Adii, a civilian who was traveling on the ship, Labobar. Derek's corpse was found floating near the Sambusa seaport in Nabire.
"It is not true that Derek died because he was stabbed by our officers," Ali Hamdan said. "Derek died after he fell from the ship's upper deck, and straight into the sea. He was drunk. Indeed he had been involved in an argument with our officers on board that ship. But it is not true that he was stabbed."
After hearing of the incident, members of Mee ethnic group in Manokwari – to which Derek had belonged – held the ship for several hours when it reached its destination and prevented it from continuing its journey.
"We are investigating and interrogating Chief Sgt. Hans Aru. [But] it is not true that Derek's death was caused by a stabbing," the spokesman said. "Manokwari itself is now secure."
Derek and his mother were heading home to Manokwari on the Labobar when Derek got involved in an altercation with a group of military officers.
According to Derek's mother, the argument ended in a fight, during which one of the military men stabbed him. Derek then fell into the water, but the ship continued toward Manokwari.