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Slaps on wrists for police mired in Gorontalo clash

Jakarta Globe - May 1, 2012

Farouk Arnaz – An internal trial for nine Gorontalo Police officers involved in the shooting of military personnel that left one of the latter dead has delivered seemingly mild sentences, but the police insisted the matter was far from over.

"They have undergone a disciplinary trial. One officer received a written warning and a 21-day detention. Eight non-commissioned officers received 21-day detentions and will have their education postponed for one year," National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Muhammad Taufik said in Jakarta on Tuesday.

When asked why the sanction for killing an officer was only a 21-day detention, Taufik said the ruling was that of an "internal disciplinary trial," with criminal court proceedings still to come.

Police have not identified the suspects, but said one is a mid-ranking officer and eight are non-commissioned officers. They were named suspects after a joint investigation by the National Police internal security team, the Gorontalo Police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) and the Kostrad strategic reserve command of the Indonesian Military (TNI).

The April 22 clash between Brimob and Kostrad personnel broke out in the province in northern Sulawesi after bottles were thrown at several Brimob officers by a group of people, injuring two officers.

The incident prompted Brimob to launch a raid, ending in a brawl that left one military officer dead and five others injured. The National Police and TNI have moved to prevent future conflicts between their personnel by drafting a six-point agreement.

Military area commander Muhammad Nizam said the TNI would not issue any statement on the cause of the shooting. "We don't want to speculate because the ballistics test results are still not out. Let the joint team make the clarification and [announce] the investigation results," Nizam said in Makassar, South Sulawesi.

Nizam said a joint team of military and police officers are still examining the bullet that penetrated the chest of the deceased military officer, Firman Baso.

Nizam, who had just returned from Gorontalo, said he had spent his time there calming military officers and urging restraint.

"Thank God, the incident didn't spread and let's hope it doesn't go on for too long. In South Sulawesi, particularly in Makassar, we have set up regular joint sports and mass prayer activities between the military and police officers to build brotherhood," he said.

Firman, who died on Thursday, was buried on Friday in his hometown of Bone, South Sulawesi.

[Additional reporting from Antara.]