Muhammad Aulia, Jakarta – Ferdy Sambo, a high-ranking officer at the National Police headquarters, was accused on Tuesday of becoming the mastermind behind the July 8 murder of his own assistant Brigadier Yosua Nopryansyah Hutabarat in a scandal that has drawn public attention throughout the past month.
Insp. Gen. Ferdy ordered the murder and he himself took Yosua's gun and fired multiple shots with it to stage the crime scene and fabricate a story that the victim died in an exchange of fire with fellow policemen, according to the shocking revelation by the top brass of the National Police in the much-awaited press conference at the headquarters in South Jakarta.
Police have established a special team of investigators to probe the case after results from the initial investigation drew public backlash and condemnation from the family of the victim due to many inconsistencies and the tendency of putting the blame on Yosua.
"The special team found that [Yosua] was shot to death by RE on the order of FS," National Police Chief Listyo Sigit Prabowo told the conference.
He was referring to Second Patrolman Richard Eliezer – who became the first suspect of the murder – and Ferdy by their initials.
Both Richard and Yosua worked as Ferdy's assistants when the murder took place at the police general's official residence in South Jakarta.
"In order to leave the impression that there was an exchange of fire, FS used [Yosua's] gun to shoot the wall multiple times," Listyo said.
Investigators are still gathering evidence and witness accounts to find out whether Ferdy also fired shots at Yosua, the police chief added.
They are also working to find answers that remain missing during Tuesday's conference, namely Ferdy's motive for the murder.
Another policeman identified as Brigadier Ricky Rizal and a fourth man identified by the initials KM are also named suspects in the case. They are accused of being an accessory to the crime.
National Police's Criminal Investigation Agency Head Comr. Gen. Agus Andrianto told the conference that all the four suspects are charged with premeditated murder that "carries the maximum punishment of death".
It took a month after Yosua's death for the National Police to finally came out with serious charges against Ferdy, who seemed to be untouchable when the news of "a shootout between officers" broke on July 11, or three days after the alleged murder.
The lengthy period between Yosua's death and the first police announcement also raised public suspicions.
Under their initial version, police said Yosua was killed in a shootout after he was caught harassing Ferdy's wife inside the home. Police also implied that it was Yosua who first pulled the trigger.
The family of the victim smelled foul play and hired lawyers to file a murder case and demand a second autopsy on Yosua's body.
Amid confusing police statements and legal battles initiated by the family, the National Commission for Human Rights (Komnas HAM) stepped in and President Joko Widodo on at least two occasions ordered the police chief to "thoroughly investigate the case without cover-ups".
The president also said firmly that he didn't want the National Police's reputation to be in tatters because of the mishandling of the case.
It emerged during Tuesday's news conference that at least 31 officers are facing disciplinary measures for misconduct in handling the case.
At least 10 high-ranking officers were removed from their posts or suspended for various allegations such as tampering with physical evidence at the crime scene.
A major twist in the ongoing investigation came last week when Richard offered himself to become a whistleblower and planned to submit his resignation to the National Police. He is currently seeking protection from the Witness and Victim Protection Agency, or LPSK.
"He is now in peace and will say the truth. But he has asked us to request legal protection as a justice collaborator," Deolipa Yumara, an attorney for Richard, said of his client.