APSN Banner

Ailing Labora surrenders, but mystery still shrouds escape

Jakarta Post - March 8, 2016

Stefani Ribka and Nethy Dharma Somba, Jakarta/Jayapura – In the latest twist to serial fugitive Labora Sitorus' recent escape, the former low-ranking police officer has surrendered and been locked up – this time under closer guard.

Early on Monday, Labora turned himself in to police at his house in Boswessel, Sorong, West Papua. A team of 120 personnel from the West Papua Police had surrounded the area around his house for days, cutting off all routes in.

"[Labora] said he didn't want to go to prison, that he'd rather die than be sent back to the penitentiary," National Police chief Gen. Badrodin Haiti told The Jakarta Post.

A convicted illegal logger, fuel hoarder and money launderer, Labora was sentenced to 15 years in prison in 2014. He has a long track record of evading incarceration. In January last year, he was declared a fugitive for refusing to serve a court-ordered prison sentence and pay a fine of Rp 5 billion (US$383,58).

He was later found to be living with dozens of employees at his residence, a 7-hectare compound that resembles a fortress. Labora had not returned to his cell in Sorong Penitentiary since October last year, having been allowed out for medical treatment, and had lived in the heavily guarded residential compound in Tampa Garam, Sorong, from where he ran his business.

Authorities at the Sorong correctional facility had conducted an erythrocyte sedimentation rate (ESR) test on him and confirmed that he had symptoms of diabetes, hypertension and heart disease.

It was not until late February that 720 police and military personnel, acting on direct orders from Jakarta, finally moved to capture Labora and transfer him to Cipinang Penitentiary in Jakarta.

Once again, though, he fooled the officials, fleeing from his house in Tampa Garam on Thursday night with the help of an employee, identified only as Tatang, who drove him away on a motorcycle. As of Monday, Tantang remained a large, but Labora had been captured and sent back to Cipinang.

The Law and Human Rights Ministry's director general of penitentiaries, I Wayan Kusmiantha Dusak said Labora had been placed in Cipinang because of his health issues.

"Labora is an ill man. If he doesn't feel well, we won't have to take him outside the prison, as Cipinang has its own hospital," Wayan said. He added that Labora was currently in an isolation room.

Yan Christian Warinussy, former lawyer for an accomplice of Labora named Iwanggin, noted that the ex-policeman had, since the time of his initial trial, proven liable to run away at any point.

"Labora's something of a mystery. He's capable of fleeing at any time. Hopefully, with better public scrutiny in Jakarta, he won't be able to escape, as he did in Sorong," he said.

Legal activist and lawyer Julius Ibrani of the Foundation of the Indonesian Legal Aid Institute (YLBHI) said that the case should not end with Labora's recapture, and that investigators should look more closely at the crimes he committed and his relationship with other law enforcers to try and ascertain the truth behind his repeated flight.

"The Law and Human Rights Ministry should ensure that this case will not end once Labora is in the penitentiary. He could be a rich vein of information regarding systemic crime – he could reveal the names of other figures involved in his crimes," Julius said.

During his detention in Sorong penitentiary, Labora repeatedly lodged requests for temporary release for medical treatment outside the penitentiary, requests that were unfailingly granted by prison authorities.

Asking about the case, Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly claimed that certain law enforcement officers were in cahoots with Labora. "We suspect the involvement of [law enforcement] officials in his escape," he said. (wnd)

Source: http://www.thejakartapost.com/news/2016/03/08/ailing-labora-surrenders-mystery-still-shrouds-escape.html