Dwi Argo Santosa & Heru Andriyanto, Jakarta – It took three days for the police to announce that one of their own was found dead at the official residence of Police General Ferdy Sambo and another month to finally bring a reasonable conclusion that it was a premeditated murder ordered by the disgraced general.
On July 8 last year, Brigadier Nofriansyah Yosua Hutabarat was shot multiple times at close range by a fellow officer on the order of Ferdy – himself fired the final shot on the victim's head, according to the latter stage of the police investigation.
That's a reversal from the initial version by first responders at the murder scene – mostly the subordinates of Ferdy at the National Police's internal security division – who said Yosua was killed in a shootout with another officer over allegations that he had harassed Ferdy's wife.
The murky conspiracy to keep Ferdy out of criminal prosecution emerged during a press conference that strangely came three days after Yosua's death.
On the same day, Yosua's body was buried quietly without the honor guard at the family hometown in Jambi.
Police argued they were unable to announce the "incident" a day earlier because it fell on a Sunday coinciding with the Muslim holiday of Eid al-Adha.
It's an unconvincing argument coming from a law agency that provides 24/7 community services. The public was curious why the police didn't make the announcement immediately on Friday when a service member was found dead – not Saturday or Sunday, let alone Monday.
Four days after Yosua's death, South Jakarta Police Chief Budhi Herdi Susianto offered an explanation that Yosua had entered the room of Putri Candrawathi and brandished his gun at the police general's wife, whose scream triggered another officer, Second Patrolman Richard Eliezer, to rush into the scene.
Yosua responded with gunshots when asked by Richard about what had happened and he later died in counter shots, according to Budhi.
Members of the media didn't easily buy his claims.
Meanwhile, in Muaro Jambi, Yosua's parents reacted angrily when they were asked not to open the casket containing the body of their son, which arrived a day after the fatal shooting.
They forced themselves to have a look at the body and a relative recorded everything using a mobile phone camera.
Videos and photographs from the parents' home immediately went viral on social media but journalists remained in the dark with police keeping the silent until a few days later.
It emerged that Yosua had a video call with his girlfriend moments before his murder, but his mobile phone was nowhere to be found.
Soon after the National Police and the South Jakarta Police delivered their version of the surrounding circumstance of his death, questions began to arise over the fire exchanges and sexual harassment claims.
If Yosua had been the first to draw the gun, why was he alone who took the bullets? Where was his mobile phone? Why did he suddenly leave all WhatsApp groups? Why did all security cameras around the scene break down? How is it possible that Yosua dared to sexually attack the general's wife inside the couple's home? Why should Yosua put the woman at a gunpoint?
The victim's family suspected foul play and their attorneys filed a murder case with the National Police 10 days after his death.
Mounting media reports critical of the police's handling of the case prompted President Joko Widodo to order a "professional and transparent investigation" into Yosua's death.
The National Police appointed a new investigation team to override the previous one. The body was exhumed for a second autopsy and the South Jakarta Police chief was put on administrative duty.
On August 9, a month and a day after Yosua died at the age of 28, National Police Chief Listyo Sigit Prabowo announced that Ferdy is a murder suspect along with four other people including his wife, Richard, Brigadier Ricky Rizal, and a family assistant named Kuat Ma'ruf.
The police headquarters launched an ethics tribunal against a number of officers, six of them were later named suspects for tampering with evidence. Ferdy and the six were also discharged dishonorably from the National Police.
The murder case brings together 11 suspects including nine officers.
Court hearings reveal how Ferdy was a very influential and respected figure at the police headquarters. Most suspects in the obstruction of justice trial testified that they simply couldn't say no to him.
At least one first responder testified under oath that he didn't dare to ask Ferdy a question upon seeing his "sour face" at the murder scene.
It also emerged in the South Jakarta courthouse that Ferdy had given instructions to make sure that there was no murder investigation.
Prosecutors accused the six officers of destroying records from security cameras around the scene and a laptop containing key information from first responders.
After Yosua was killed, Ferdy allegedly used the victim's gun to shoot randomly at the walls to leave an impression as if a shootout had occurred, according to accounts from witnesses.
Yosua was in fact unarmed when he was shot, police and prosecutors have said. A fellow officer had taken and hidden Yosua's guns before he was asked to come inside the house on Jalan Duren Tiga where he was murdered.
Also during a court hearing, Putri changed the narrative from sexual harassment at Ferdy's official residence in South Jakarta to a claim that she was raped by Yosua at a house in the Central Java town of Magelang, drawing immediate criticism from prosecutors.
What is really the motive for the murder?
While prosecutors have ruled out the rape allegation, they speculated that Putri was involved in a love affair with Yosua, even though it's not obligatory for them to prove it.
Prosecutors said their focus is on the murder case and claimed they are beyond any reasonable doubt to indict Ferdy as the murder mastermind and demand a life sentence for him.