Jakarta – A 20-year-old defendant accused of hurling rocks at the police during student protests in the capital in September of last year has told a panel of judges at the Central Jakarta District Court that he was tortured by police officers to falsely confess to having attacked authorities.
Dede Luthfi Alfiandi, whose photo clutching an Indonesian flag to his face has become an emblem of the student protests over controversial bills in the House of Representatives, said during a hearing on Monday that the torture took place while he was being questioned by the West Jakarta Police.
"I was asked to sit, and I got electrocuted for about half an hour. I was forced to say that I threw rocks at the police officers, while in fact I did not," he said as quoted by kompas.com.
Due to the repeated physical torture, Lutfi said he had no choice but to say yes.
"I was under a lot of pressure in that moment, so I said I did attack the police. Shortly after that, they told me to squat and I got my ears clipped and electrocuted," he added.
Luthfi said the torture ended when the police learned that Luthfi was the person in the viral photo. "They asked me whether it was true that it was me in the viral picture. I said yes, then they stopped hurting me," he explained.
The photo shows Luthfi wearing blue-grey pants – associated with the uniforms of senior vocational high schools (STMs) – a grey hoodie and covering his face with the red and white Indonesian national flag in a cloud of teargas. It was taken during the Sept. 25 protest in Jakarta and went viral on social media.
Luthfi, one of the 1,489 people arrested during the series of student protests, was the first to stand trial. More than 1,000 of those arrested have been released, while 380 others are facing charges including spreading false information, throwing rocks at the police, possessing sharp weapons, vandalizing police stations and possessing Molotov cocktails.
He was initially questioned at the West Jakarta Police headquarters but was then moved to the Central Jakarta Police headquarters on Oct. 3.
Luthfi told the judges he joined the protest voluntarily. He was accused of violating Articles 212 and 218 of the Criminal Code for resisting officers' orders more than three times.
According to the prosecutors, Luthfi and the other student protesters were asked to disperse but resisted and instead attacked the police officers by throwing stones.
Luthfi was also charged under Article 170 of the same law for allegedly taking part in destroying public facilities.
The prosecutors said Luthfi had continuously thrown rocks, firecrackers, plastic bottles and bamboo sticks at the officers and had vandalized public facilities. (vla)