Nina A. Loasana and Nur Janti, Jakarta – More police officers have been brought before the National Police ethics panel on allegations of ethics violations over their handling of the Brig. "J" Nofriansyah Yosua Hutabarat murder case, with the latest being Second Insp. Arsyad Daiva Gunawan who was demoted on Monday.
Critics, however, lament the National Police for its slow progress.
The police previously found sufficient evidence that the victim's former commander Ferdy Sambo may have orchestrated the killing of Brig J. and worked together with dozens of police officers who initially investigated the case to cover it up.
According to National Police Chief Gen. Listyo Sigit, the police officers in question allegedly acted "unprofessionally" and tried to destroy and tamper with evidence, including the CCTV footage of Ferdy's house.
Ferdy and his wife Putri Candrawathi have been named suspects of the premeditated murder of Brig. J, killed on July 8 at Ferdy's official residence in Duren Tiga in South Jakarta.
Police also named three other suspects, Richard Eliezer, Brig. Ricky Rizal and Kuat Maruf, on similar charges. At the time of the incident, Ricky was on duty as an aide-de-camp and chauffeur to Ferdy's wife and Kuat as a driver and house servant to Ferdy's family. The crime carries a maximum penalty of death or life in prison.
The case, the biggest scandal in Indonesian police to date, has tattered the police image because dozens of police officers were involved in Ferdy's cover up story.
The police charged 35 officers after questioning a total of 97 personnel in relation to the initial handling case of Brig. J's murder, with 28 allegedly committed ethical breaches and seven for obstructing justice.
As of this week, the police ethics committee has been holding a series of hearings and imposing sanctions for 11 officers who were found guilty of committing ethical violence, with most being demoted.
Four of seven police officers allegedly committed obstruction of justice, namely Agus Nurpatria, Baiquni Wibowo, Chuck Putranto and Ferdy have undergone ethics hearings and have been dishonorably discharged from the force.
Ferdy appealed the decision, but his plea was subsequently denied by the National Police's ethics committee. Meanwhile, Agus, Baiquni and Chuck are in the process of filing an appeal.
All suspects of obstructing justice were charged with a felony for allegedly violating Article 49 and Article 48 of the Electronic Information and Transactions (ITE) Law and Article 221 or Article 233 of the Criminal Code, which govern tampering with evidence.
The police have been notably slow on the ethics hearing, especially for the remaining three officers who are suspected of committing obstruction of justice, namely Brig. Gen. Hendra Kurniawan, Adj. Sr. Comr. Arif Rahman Arifin and Adj. Comr. Irfan Widyanto, despite Listyo's statement on Aug. 24 that all hearings would be finished within 30 days.
Police have postponed Hendra's ethics hearing three times, reportedly due to medical issues of one of the key witnesses, Arif Rahman Arifin, who is recovering from surgery, without giving details on the illness.
National Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Nurul Azizah said that authorities never intended to drag out the ethics tribunal process, saying that Hendra's hearing might be carried out within the week.
"Hopefully it can be carried out this week," Nurul said on Monday as reported by Tempo.
Bambang Rukminto, a security analyst at the Institute for Security and Strategic Studies (ISESS) said the slow progress in holding ethics hearings strengthened the public's assumption that it was a mere formality with no meaningful intentions to clean up the internal police.
He went on to say that ethics hearings should not only examine the misconduct in the case handling but further, looking at the impact on institutions and society so that internal witnesses are not too significant to be presented.
"The most important thing is that the ethics and internal discipline investigators provide strong evidence to the ethics trial. I see that this is indeed related to Hendra's strong bargaining position," he told The Jakarta Post on Monday.
National Police Commission (Kompolnas) member Poengky Indarti has urged authorities to focus on finishing the hearing of all 35 officers, especially those who are suspected to have conducted obstruction of justice.
"The National Police should focus on processing officers who are allegedly committing serious ethics violations," Poengky said on Wednesday as reported by Tempo. "It would be even better if they could open the hearings to the public as a form of transparency and accountability."