The low-ranking soldiers alleged to be responsible for an attack on four detainees of the Cebongan Prison in Sleman, Yogyakarta, could have taken the fall for their seniors who orchestrated the murder, rights activists have said.
Coordinator of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) Haris Azhar said an independent investigation from a number of rights group found indications that high ranking officials from the Indonesian Military (TNI) and Army Special Forces (Kopassus) met with Yogyakarta Police chief Brig. Gen. Sabar Rahardjo on March 19 at the Yogyakarta Police headquarters.
The meeting was held only a few hours after former Kopassus commando First Sgt. Heru Santoso was killed in Hugo’s Cafe in Sleman.
The rights group failed to get details on what transpired in the closed-door meeting but they suspect the meeting could be linked to the execution-style murder of four inmates implicated in Heru’s murder.
“We have to look at the sequence of events; the murder at the cafe and the meeting with Yogyakarta Police. We have to discover how the three events are linked. We suspect that the police and TNI top brass had prior knowledge of [the prison attack],” Haris told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.
A lawmaker also backed Haris’ claim.
Syarifuddin Sudding, a member of the House of Representatives Commission III on legal affairs, acknowledged that the Yogyakarta Police chief Brig. Gen. Sabar Rahardjo and Diponegoro Military Regional Command chief Maj. Gen. Hardiono Saroso had communicated following the cafe murder.
“Both of them were worried that Heru’s death would trigger a clash similar to what happened at Ogan Komering Ulu,” he said, referring to TNI soldiers’ violent attacks against local police stations in South Sumatera last month.
Syarifuddin said that Sabar confirmed that he had communicated intensively with Hardiano via telephone after the murder.
“They spoke several times on the telephone, coordinating security measures for the four detainees. Unfortunately, they failed to put more protection at the Cebongan Prison because warden Sukamto could not contact the police chief,” said Sudding, who joined a fact-finding mission in Yogyakarta.
On Saturday, both Hardiono and Sabar were removed from their position, a move that prompted speculation that the two were sacked for their handling of the murder case.
Earlier last week, the TNI investigation team confirmed the involvement of 11 soldiers — assigned to Kopassus Group 2 in Kartosuro, Central Java — in the incident. Army investigation team head Brig. Gen. Unggul K. Yudhoyono said that the attack was revenge against “thugs who brutally killed First Sgt. Heru”.
“The perpetrators are Bintara [non-commissioned officers] and Tamtama [enlisted], no one else was involved,” Unggul told a press conference on Thursday.
A defense analyst at the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI), Ikrar Nusa Bhakti, posited that more people were involved in the raid, considering the testimony of witnesses that 17 armed individuals stormed the prison.
“Maybe the army only disclosed information about the role of these 11 assailants and decided to hide the other identities because they are of a higher rank,” he told the Post.
Ikrar said the superiors of the 11 suspects were not aware of the murder plan and should be held accountable.
“They should have known what their subordinates were doing,” he explained
Army spokesman Brig. Gen. Rukman Ahmad, Yogyakarta Police chief Brig. Gen. Sabar and his spokesperson Adj. Sr. Comr. Anny Pujiastuti did not return a phone call from the Post on Sunday.
Over the weekend, a massive social media campaign was launched to support the execution-style murder of the four detainees.
On Facebook the page — One million support for Kopassus soldiers who stormed the Cebongan Prison, has received 6,414 likes from users of the popular social networking site as of Sunday evening.
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