Apriadi Gunawan, Karo Regency, North Sumatra – Police named 20 inmates suspects on Thursday following a prison riot that culminated in a large-scale case of arson that damaged most parts of the Kabanjahe Penitentiary in Karo regency, North Sumatra, a day earlier.
Karo Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Benny Hutajulu said the police made arrests after questioning witnesses during the investigation. The inmates face charges under Article 170 of the Criminal Code on group violence, which carries a maximum penalty of five-and-a-half years' imprisonment.
"Some of them vandalized and set things on fire, while others provoked anger [among fellow inmates]," Benny told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.
He added the suspects were detained at the Karo Police headquarters for further questioning.
The situation at Kabanjahe Penitentiary has since returned to normal, with a number of inmates having been relocated to other correctional facilities in several regencies and cities across North Sumatra in the early hours of Thursday.
"Some were moved to Binjai, Sidikalang, Langkat, and Tanjung Gusta in Medan," Benny said.
North Sumatra Police chief Insp. Gen. Martuani Sormin previously said on Wednesday that 268 inmates were to be relocated pending a court ruling, while 142 others were to stay at the Karo Police headquarters in the wake of the riot.
The 142 prisoners were due to be returned to Kabanjahe in two to three days, he said.
"We will immediately repair the damaged prison cells, so the 142 prisoners who are still awaiting a court ruling may be able to return to their designated cells," Martuani said.
He went on to say that the riot, which damaged 75 percent of Kabanjahe Penitentiary, was incited by inmates who had rebelled against disciplinary action from prison guards. Many other prisoners eventually joined and fought the authorities out of solidarity, resulting in a full-blown riot, Martuani said. (rfa)