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Indonesian anti-terror squad under fire for killing doctor

UCA News - March 14, 2022

Katharina R. Lestari, Jakarta – Indonesia's anti-terror squad Densus 88 has been accused of employing excessive use of force over the recent death of a doctor suspected of having links to a terrorist organization who was shot by officers while trying to evade arrest.

The incident has prompted the country's human rights commission to launch an investigation.

The 53-year-old doctor called Sunardi was shot while trying to flee from the anti-terror unit in a pickup truck in Sukoharjo district of Central Java province last week.

Police said he was a key member of the al-Qaeda-linked Jemaah Islamiyah terror group that has been blamed for a number of terrorist atrocities in Indonesia and Southeast Asia over the past few decades, including the 2002 Bali bombings and attacks on Christian churches.

Densus 88 said it had to shoot the physician because he drove erratically at high speed in an apparent attempt to throw officers, who had jumped into the cargo bed of his pickup, from the vehicle.

The killing has drawn an angry response on social media, with the hashtag #PrayForDokterSunardi trending on platforms such as Twitter. Many questioned whether shooting the doctor was necessary.

Andreas Harsono, an Indonesian researcher for Human Rights Watch, said an investigation was warranted.

"There has to be one if there is any suspicion that someone was fatally shot when they could have been taken into custody," he said.

The Indonesian medical association also criticized the killing and demanded that police explain why it was necessary to kill the doctor.

Arif Budi Satrio, chairman of the local branch of the Indonesian Medical Doctors Association, also questioned whether the doctor had links to a terror outfit.

"There should be no association between the medical profession and terrorism because the two things are extremely contradictory," the Benar News portal quoted him as saying.

However, Petrus Salestinus, a Catholic lawyer and coordinator of the Movement of Indonesian Advocates, sided with the anti-terror unit.

"What Densus 88 did was a proper course of action and legal considering that it was done to protect people other people," he said on March 13.

"It is tasked with maintaining security, enforcing the law and protecting the people, which is what the unit did."

The controversy over the killing has prompted the National Commission on Human Rights to intervene and seek an explanation.

Muhammad Choirul Anam, from the commission's investigation desk, said the commission will summon senior Densus 88 officials and quiz them about the killing.

"Hopefully next week we can get some answers. There should be a comprehensive explanation," he said.

Source: https://www.ucanews.com/news/indonesian-anti-terror-squad-under-fire-for-killing-doctor/9648