Jakarta – A defendant accused of rioting during postelection protests in May has told a panel of judge at the Central Jakarta District Court that uniformed policemen assaulted him during his arrest.
Raga Eka Darma, one of 12 defendants who stood trial at the court on Wednesday, claimed that he was beaten and kicked by the police when they apprehended him after the protest descended into rioting on May 22.
The man, who said that he had joined the protest alone, told the court that he participated in mass tarawih (evening Ramadan prayers) with other protesters in front of the Elections Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) building on Jl. MH Thamrin in Central Jakarta.
After the prayers, Raga said that he sat down in front of Bawaslu while drinking a cup of coffee when trouble suddenly broke out, as some protesters started damaging security barricades and throwing bottles and rocks at the police.
"I was caught up in the situation and yelled some stuff, but I did not join in throwing anything [at the police], honestly," Raga said as quoted by kompas.com.
Raga told the panel of judges that he did not leave the scene even though the police had called for the protesters to disperse. He was arrested by police personnel later.
"I was beaten, choked and I got kicked until I was weak and I could not get up. My chest was stuffy and then [the police] left me," he told the court.
He claimed that non-uniformed personnel brought him to a police post near Bawaslu and put him inside a car and took him to the Jakarta Police headquarters.
Raga said that he thought he was beaten by the police because he tried to resist arrest.
The defendant was among the suspected rioters accused of attacking the police with stones and damaging public facilities. Raga was charged under the Criminal Code.
In a report released in June, rights group Amnesty International found alleged use of torture by police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) officers when handling postelection protests that escalated into riots on May 21-23.
According to Amnesty, at least 12 people suffered torture and ill treatment that occurred in areas near Bawaslu, including in Kampung Bali, were reports of police brutality had previously emerged. (ami/afr)