National

Maluku Police name new
suspect, take over case

The Central Maluku Police have named Muhammad Patty a third suspect in Tuesday's riot in Masohi, Central Maluku, which resulted in the destruction of dozens of buildings and houses.

Police claim Patty's involvement in the riots included burning residents' houses in Letwaru when a clash between two neighborhoods broke out.

Welhelmina Holle and Asmara Wasahua were previously named suspects in the incident that resulted in more than five people being injured, 67 houses damaged and a church and a village community hall set on fire.

The case is now being handled by Maluku Police, which took over the case Friday.

"The investigation into the suspects will be conducted by Maluku Police, and all of them (suspects) are now in Ambon," Maluku Police chief Brig. Gen. Mudji Waluyo said in Ambon on Friday.

Mudji said that to restore order in the Masohi region, the provincial police redeployed two platoons to the area Tuesday.

He said he was confident the measures were sufficient given that the two platoons had backup from the 731st Kabaressy infantry battalion and police personnel from the Central Maluku Police.

Asmara, the leader of the Tuesday rally that turned into a riot, was taken to Ambon on Wednesday, he said.

Asmara, chairman of the Central Maluku Muslim Communication Forum and a legislative candidate from the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) in the 2009 election, has been accused of provoking protesters during the demonstration.

Welhelmina, a teacher at an SD Masohi elementary school who allegedly insulted Islam during an after-class tutorial, and Patty were sent to Maluku Police on Friday.

The situation in Masohi has gradually returned to normal with residents holding activities in public places such as markets and bus stations, although some remained reluctant to take part in community activities.

Some schools and offices that were temporarily closed during the riot returned to their normal routines Thursday. The Masohi Plaza shopping center in the Binaya market compound was also busy as customers started to return.

Some barricades installed at several roads in the town have been dismantled. However, some areas prone to conflict, including Letwaru and Ampera subdistricts, which form the border between two different community areas in Masohi, were still under the protection of the army and police.

Mudji said that after Tuesday's riot, some provocative text messages had been sent to residents in Masohi but no one had reacted to the message.

Separately, Maluku governor Karel Albert Ralahalu expressed his happiness that people in Maluku, especially in Ambon, could control themselves and not be provoked by the clash that was led by a religious conflict.

"People in Maluku already have a strong defense to prevent irresponsible issues from spreading wildly. This can be seen from the situation in Ambon city, which remained calm despite the highly tense situation after the Masohi riot," Ralahalu said.

Meanwhile, Central Maluku regent Abdullah Tuasikal said that in a bid to prevent further conflict in Masohi, his office had temporarily suspended Welhelmina from her position as a teacher and civil servant.

"I have issued an SK determination letter to temporarily stop Welhelmina from teaching and tutoring," Tuasikal said.

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