Stevani Wijaya, Jakarta – The South Jakarta courtroom erupted into chaos on Wednesday after judges delivered a prison sentence of 18 months to Richard Eliezer for shooting policeman Nofriansyah Yosua Hutabarat to death, in contrast to the death sentence the same court handed earlier to the mastermind in the high-profile murder case.
Richard burst into tears upon hearing the verdict and moments later dozens of his supporters forced their way into the main room of the South Jakarta District Court in celebration.
They got through chairs and wooden barriers to congratulate the defendant, prompting security officials to intervene and order them to leave the room.
When reading out the verdict, presiding judge Wahyu Iman Santoso said the main factor that earns Richard leniency is his willingness to cooperate with investigators in uncovering the murder case, in which disgraced police general Ferdy Sambo became the prime suspect.
The defendant also "behaved in good manners, had no previous criminal record, showed sincere remorse, and pledged not to repeat his crime", the judge said.
Prosecutors previously demanded a sentence of 12 years in prison for Richard. There have been calls for the court to consider leniency for Richard, widely described as the whistleblower in the case.
He stunned the court audience and TV viewers alike when the first time he met face to face with the parents of the victim in the courtroom, he approached them and kneeled for forgiveness.
The panel apparently also took the touching moment into consideration. "The family of Nofriansyah Yosua Hutabarat forgave the defendant," the judge said.
Richard is the first and only defendant to admit wrongdoing and reveal the murder plot, dismissing earlier police finding that Yosua was killed in a shootout after he was caught harassing his superior's wife. The presiding judge described him as a "justice collaborator".
Ferdy, who was sentenced to death, ordered Richard to shoot Yosua allegedly because the victim had sexually harassed the police general's wife, Putri Candrawathi, who got 20 years in prison for her role in the murder.
Yosua was murdered inside Ferdy's official residence in South Jakarta on July 8, 2022, but the panel of judges believes after cross-examination of witnesses that Ferdy also fired his gun at the victim.
The panel ruled out accusations that Yosua had raped or harassed Putri because both Ferdy and his wife failed to establish evidence to support their claim.
Ferdy's personal assistant Kuat Ma'ruf was sentenced to 15 years in prison while former policeman Ricky Rizal got 13 years' imprisonment for becoming an accessory in the murder.