The Archipelago

Police blasted for handling
of journalist murder case

Fifteen years on, the mystery shrouding the murder of journalist Fuad Muhammad Syafrudin, aka Udin, has yet to be lifted.

A discussion in Yogyakarta on Tuesday concluded that the local police, who since the murder case have had 14 different chiefs, were not serious about handling the case.

“The state institution, in this case the police, continues to apply a closed system. There has not been any clear work done,” Lukas Ispandriarno, a speaker at the discussion, told the forum organized by Yogyakarta Police Watch Network (JPP).

The event was held to commemorate 15 years since Udin’s death.

Lukas, who is also dean of Yogyakarta Atmajaya University’s School of Social and Political Sciences, said that because the case had received international attention, the reputation of Indonesia would be at stake for as long as the case remained unsolved.

Udin, a journalist of then local daily Bernas, was found beaten and unconscious at his rented house in Bantul, Yogyakarta, on Aug. 13, 1996. He died three days later without ever regaining consciousness.

Independent investigations conducted by different journalist networks concluded that Udin was murdered because of his reports, which strongly criticized local policies and misappropriations of authority.

Another speaker, Heru Prasetya, who edited for Udin, said he doubted the police’s ability to bring the case to justice.

He said that the police had actually collected a lot of information that could be used to arrest the murderer(s).

Some of that information was revealed in the trial of Dwi Sumaji, aka Iwik, who was named a suspect in the case, but was later acquitted by the Bantul District Court.

Iwik told the court that he had been forced by the police to admit to the murder for the sake of the interests of the Bantul regent at the time. He said he had been offered a gift in return for his confession, Heru said.

Since then almost no significant progress has been made by the police in the case. Several of the Yogyakarta Police chiefs have said that the police’s work was over, as they had named Iwik a suspect and the sent him to court.

Heru, however, said the police should respect the court’s ruling, and not give up on the case. “They have to accept that they have presented a wrong suspect,” he said. “So, let’s just reopen all the files they have and start working hard.”

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