At least seven Public Order Agency (Satpol PP) officers on Batam Island, Riau Islands Province have been arrested and could potentially face imprisonment after they were caught on film extorting money from a beggar.
A video of the incident was uploaded by Youtuber Ferry Kesuma, who has over 106,000 subscribers, on Sunday and circulated widely recently. In the video description, Ferry wrote that he happened to be at an intersection near Batam International University (UIB) on Sunday afternoon when he saw officials from the city's Social Agency forcing a beggar with a disability to get into their car.
The male beggar struggled and cried for help, which prompted Ferry to approach them. A female beggar can be seen sitting inside the car before an officer closed the door, but Ferry managed to catch up with them before the car drove off.
Ferry asked the two officers in the front seats to take off their mask, to which the officer in the green shirt complied. The officer in the yellow shirt, sitting on the passenger seat, pushed Ferry away before the car quickly left the scene. The video shows that the car had a red registration plate, which is used by official agencies in Indonesia.
The beggar told Ferry that he had been extorted several times by the officers, adding that he has never been taken to the agency's office. He said the officers would take his money and then drop him off on an empty street, with the extortions allegedly conducted under the guise of a round-up operation targeting beggars and street children.
Salim, who heads the Satpol PP in Batam, has confirmed both the incident and the identities of the officers. He said the men in the video were Satpol PP officers who had been assigned to assist the Social Agency. They were apprehended by Riau Islands Police yesterday evening.
"[One of the Satpol PP officers] is a civil servant who held the role of field coordinator, and the three others members were temporary employees," Salim said today.
The four officers will face stern sanctions should authorities find sufficient proof that they extorted the beggars, he added.
Arie Dharmanto, who heads Riau Islands Police's general crimes unit, said the police have also apprehended three more people linked to the extortion allegations.
"Yes, we have caught seven Batam City's Satpol PP officers. There were initially four people this morning, but we apprehended three more people just this afternoon," Arie said today.
Arie said his team will look into the possibility of other officers engaging in similar crime.
"The suspects' modus operandi is pretending to catch the beggars. After they're apprehended, the beggars were scared into believing that they would be taken to the Social Agency office, but if they don't want to be brought there, they have to give up the money they got from begging," Arie said.
The suspects could potentially be charged with Article 368 on blackmail under Indonesia's Criminal Code (KUHP), which could see them individually sentenced to nine years in prison if found guilty.