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A military tribunal in Madiun, East Java, has sentenced four non-commissioned officers serving as Community Affairs (Babinsa) personnel to five and six years imprisonment, fined them Rp 500 million (US$55,000) and dismissed them from military service for their role in the smuggling of Middle Eastern migrants last December.
Presiding judge Let. Col. Mohammad Affandi said in the verdict on Thursday afternoon that the four defendants were guilty of violating Article 120 of Law No. 6/2011 on Immigration because they had collaborated with others to transit the migrants through Klatak and Popoh beaches in Tulungagung regency, and Prigi Beach in Trenggalek, East Java, on Dec. 17, 2011.
“We order them to be imprisoned and to serve their sentences from the time they were detained for examination and trial,” said Affandi.
The four defendants were identified as Second Sgt. Kornelius Nama, 37, of the Bluto subdistrict military command; Chief Corp. Karyadi of the Besuki military subdistrict, Chief Warrant Officer Sosiali, 50, Babinsa member of the Besuki subdistrict military command and Chief Sgt. Khoirul Anam, 43, of the Besuki military subdistrict in Tulungagung.
Kornelius got six years, was fined Rp 500 million and dismissed from military service, while Karyadi was sentenced to five years, fined Rp 500 million and also dismissed.
“Don’t only punish us as the police and other personnel were also involved in the case, it is a long journey to bring 200 illegal immigrants from Jakarta to here. If they safely reached here from Jakarta, then a syndicate is most likely to be involved. We are just the scapegoats,” Kornelius said after the verdict was handed down.
Defendants Sosiali and Khoirul were sentenced to five years and fined Rp 500 million each and dismissed from their units.
On the previous day, fellow soldier Second Sgt. Ilmun Abdul Said, 36, of the Sokobanah military subdistrict in Sampang, Madura, who coordinated the operation was sentenced to six years and fined Rp 500 million and dismissed from the army.
On Dec. 17, 2011, a boat carrying around 215 Middle Eastern migrants sank in heavy seas off Prigi, Trenggalek.
Forty-nine migrants survived, while 90 bodies were recovered. Dozens of others are still missing after search workers failed to find their bodies.
Some of the deceased were buried in Putat Jaya, Surabaya, on March 23 this year, while relatives of a number of other victims requested that they be returned to their countries of origin.
Police named Roni Bambang , 40, Nuri, 36, Joko, 20 and Roni, 32, all residents of Popoh hamlet, Besuki district, Situbondo, East Java, as suspects in the people-smuggling case.
They were charged with violating Law No. 17/2008 on Sailing and the Immigration law which carry minimum sentences of five years. Roni Bambang and Nuri were the owner and skipper of the vessel Barokah, while Joko and Roni were crew members. They transported the migrants from Popoh beach, Tulunggagung to a ferry that was waiting offshore.
Indonesia has become a transit point for illegal immigration from Middle Eastern countries for people seeking asylum in Australia and the two countries have enhanced bilateral cooperation to eradicate the illegal immigration.