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Death sentence sought for soldiers accused of kidnapping, murdering shopkeeper

Jakarta Post - November 29, 2023

Jakarta – Prosecutors have asked the Jakarta Military Court to hand down the death penalty to three soldiers accused of kidnapping, torturing and murdering a shopkeeper from Aceh.

The three defendants are Riswansi Manik, a member of the Presidential Security Detail (Paspampres); Jasmowir of the Iskandar Muda Military Command in Aceh; and Heri Sandi of the Army's headquarters. They were arrested by the Jakarta Military Police in August for allegedly killing 25-year-old Imam Masykur, who worked at a cosmetics shop in South Tangerang, Banten.

At a hearing on Monday in East Jakarta, military prosecutor Lt. Col. Upen Jaya Supena argued that the three defendants were guilty of premeditated murder under the Criminal Code, which is punishable by life in prison or the death penalty.

The three defendants, all of the rank of private, have also been charged with kidnapping.

"We find no mitigating factors for [the three defendants]," Upen said, as quoted by Kompas.com. "They committed inhumane acts and killed the victim in cold bold."

The prosecution said the defendants had violated the soldiers' oath and demanded that the judges also dishonorably discharge them from military service.

The three-member bench, led by Jakarta Military Court head Col. Rudy Dwi Prakamto, adjourned the trial until next week, when they will hear closing statements from the defense.

Lawyers representing Imam's family said outside the courtroom on Monday that the defendants deserved capital punishment, Kompas.com reported.

In previous hearings, the prosecution made the case that the soldiers had gone on Aug. 12 to the cosmetics shop in South Tangerang where Imam worked, pretending to be police officers intending to arrest Imam for supposedly selling an illicit drug called Tramadol.

Tramadol is a synthetic opioid used to treat moderate to severe pain. It is addictive and cannot be bought without a prescription.

After showing a fake arrest warrant, the soldiers handcuffed Imam and brought him to a car, the prosecution argued. The three are also accused of kidnapping another shopkeeper named Khaidar from a shop in Condet, East Jakarta.

Inside the car, the perpetrators tortured Imam and Khaidar, contacted their family members and employers and demanded a Rp 50 million (US$3,230) ransom for each of the victims, the prosecution said.

Imam's family was unable to provide the ransom money and reported Imam's kidnapping to the Jakarta Police the following day.

Imam died of his injuries after multiple hours of torture and the three soldiers threw his body in a river, the prosecutors argued.

His body was found on Aug. 15 and identified a week later.

At the Monday hearing, the prosecutors said Imam's autopsy report showed that he had suffered from multiple bruises and cuts on his upper body, blunt neck trauma, a broken jaw and a brain hemorrhage.

More than a dozen witnesses, mostly for the prosecution and including some of Imam's family members, have testified before the court.

The police have also arrested three civilians who are allegedly linked to the crime, including Zulhadi Satria Saputra, the brother-in-law of defendant Riswandi. The two other suspects are accused of acting as fences and purchasing the victims' belongings after the crime. They all are in police custody awaiting trial.

Paspampres and the Indonesian Military (TNI) drew public attention after video footage that appeared to show a phone conversation between the victim and a member of his family went viral not long after the family reported the kidnapping to the police. In the video, the family received a phone call from the victim, who asked them to pay the ransom.

Then-TNI chief Yudo Margono said at the time that the three soldiers would be prosecuted to the fullest extent of the law, saying he had no problem with them being handed life sentences and, if necessary, the death penalty.

Nasir Djamil, a lawmaker on House of Representatives Commission III overseeing legal affairs and who represents constituents in an Aceh electoral district, has said he received information that Imam's case was not the first abduction for ransom targeting Acehnese people working at cosmetics shops.

Usman Hamid of human rights group Amnesty International Indonesia condemned the alleged kidnapping and murder. He said the case served as an indication that inhumane treatment of civilians by members of the state apparatus remained a fact of life in Indonesia.

Data from Amnesty Indonesia shows that between June 2019 and June 2023, at least 105 such abuse cases occurred involving 171 victims. Seventy-seven of the cases involved police personnel, 15 cases TNI personnel and seven cases other government workers. (nal)

Source: https://asianews.network/death-sentence-sought-for-soldiers-accused-of-kidnapping-murdering-shopkeeper