National Police launch probe of C. Sulawesi torture claim
The Jakarta Post
The National Police are examining the allegation that some of their members have been involved in human rights abuses when handling suspected terrorists in Central Sulawesi.
National Police chief Gen. Timur Pradopo said the Internal Affairs Division has questioned members of the police’s elite Mobile Brigade (Brimob) stationed in Central Sulawesi.
“We have questioned Brimob [personnel]. We’ll see [the results] in court,” Timur told reporters at Halim Perdanakusuma Airport on Sunday.
Timur refused to disclose more details of the investigation but said the police had wrapped up their probe into the alleged torture.
Late last week, Muslim groups including Muhammadiyah and Nadhlatul Ulama (NU) called on the National Police to dissolve the country’s Densus 88 counterterrorism unit in the wake of allegations that it had tortured, wrongfully arrested or killed suspected terrorists while fighting terrorism.
The groups said they presented the police with video footage depicting men in Densus 88 uniforms intimidating and torturing what appeared to be a suspected terrorist.
Timur declined to confirm the authenticity of the video and said that experts within the corps were now examining the footage.
National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar said the police had been aware of the alleged torture practice long before the Muslim groups presented the video.
Boy, however, said that the police had a problem authenticating the video.
“We don’t know yet whether the video is original or not, as well as when and where the abuse in the video took place,” Boy told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.
He said the police had launched a probe into the torture allegation late last year.
“We’ve questioned 18 Brimob officers in Poso since December last year for their alleged involvement in torturing suspected terrorists in Central Sulawesi,” he said.
So far, no police officers have been named suspects in the torture allegation, with a disciplinary tribunal for Brimob members being held in the event that reliable evidence was found.
However, Boy said that no such evidence had been found regarding members of both Brimob and Densus 88 being involved in torture.
“We cannot yet determine the perpetrators shown in the video, because the footage is poor quality,” Boy said.
In his meeting with the National Police on Thursday last week, Muhammadiyah chairman Din Syamsuddin said the video insulted Islam and could give the wrong impression about Muslims in the country, who are largely opposed to terrorism.
The groups later called on the National Police to dissolve Densus 88, with politicians also supporting the proposal.
The People’s Consultative Assembly (MPR) deputy speaker Lukman Hakim Saefuddin, who is also a United Development Party (PPP) politician, said an evaluation of Densus 88 must take place.
He said Densus 88 had created a stigma that terrorism was closely related to Islam.
Lukman also accused Densus 88 of violating human rights.
“Their current approach to combating terrorism, including shootings and killings, are forms of human rights violations,” Lukman said on Saturday as quoted by Antara news agency.
Chairman of the Indonesian Police Watch (IPW), Neta S. Pane, said that the police had long been known for their arrogance when dealing with terror cases and had made no effort to end impunity among their members.
“Muslim groups have repeatedly filed reports of mistreatment against terrorist suspects, but those reports are never followed up,” Neta said.
He added that last year, Muslim groups filed several reports of abuse against terrorist suspects who were implicated in a string of shootings targeted at the police in Surakarta (Solo), Central Java.
“Despite these allegations, the police did nothing to punish those officers responsible,” he said. (nad)
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