Jakarta

Child molesters beyond
reach of long arm of the
law

Despite allegations of child molestation against a number of local clerics in the city, not one suspect has been detained due to a lack of solid evidence in each case, according to the police.

In the most recent case, allegedly committed by the founder of the Islamic educational Darul Ilmi Al-fikri Foundation in Pondok Cabe, South Jakarta, the police said they had no legitimate reason to arrest the suspect.

South Jakarta Police detectives chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Hermawan said on Tuesday that according to Criminal Code Procedures, an arrest could only be made with two pieces of evidence: physical proof and a witness statement.

“Physical examinations of the [victims] did not present anything unusual. Also, the witnesses presented did not directly see the alleged assaults taking place, they only received verbal reports from the victims,” he said, adding that the police had not stopped seeking evidence for the case.

The police named Mika Maulana a suspect on Nov. 26, following a report filed by a teacher at the foundation, for allegedly molesting three teenage girls, aged 14, 16 and 17, between January and September. The police, however, soon released him, much to the anger of the victims’ families.

“It is not right that the man is walking around free, considering what he did to my 14-year-old daughter,” said the widowed mother of one of the girls at the National Commission for Child Protection (Komnas Anak) office in East Jakarta on Tuesday.

The parents and their legal representatives are seeking support from the commission to have the suspect arrested.

One of the lawyers, Abu Bakar Lamatapo, said the police’s argument was debatable, as they already had statements from the three victims and two witnesses.

“The fact that the man hasn’t been put behind bars has upset the parents, the victims and people living in those areas, which in itself could be another reason to issue an arrest warrant,” Abu said.

Komnas Anak chairman Arist Merdeka Sirait said the police should charge the suspect under the 2002 Child Protection Law rather than the Criminal Code on molestation, which the suspect could easily dodge by claiming what took place was consensual.

“Even if it was consensual, it was done to minors, who are supposed to be protected from such repugnant deeds,” he said.

The Criminal Code carries seven years’ imprisonment as a punishment for molestation, while the Child Protection Law carries a sentence of 15 years in jail plus a Rp 300 million (US$31,136) fine.

Another alleged sex offender who is still free is cleric Habib Hasan Assegaf, the leader of the Nurul Musthofa Islamic congregation in Jagakarta, South Jakarta. He was reported to police in February for allegedly sexually abusing 13 underage boys since 2002.

Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Rikwanto said the police were making slow progress in the Habib Hasan investigation, also due to a lack of evidence.

“The difficulty in investigating such cases is that sometimes the assaults occurred long before being reported, therefore making it hard to gather physical evidence,” Rikwanto said. (aml/fzm)

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