The Langkat Police have acknowledged facing difficulties in establishing the cause of death of an English tourist in April after she drank illicit alcohol at the Bukit Lawang tourist resort in Langkat regency, North Sumatra.
Langkat Police chief of detectives Adj. Sr. Comr. Rosyid Hartanto said the police had yet to receive a report from her relatives on her death, which they needed as an initial step in the investigation.
“Unfortunately, the result of an internal investigation of the incident could not be used as material to formulate the dossier,” Rosyid told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.
“A police report filed by the relatives or friends of the victim is needed. This is part of our difficulty because relatives of the deceased have yet to file a report.”
English tourist Cheznye Emmons, 23, died after drinking a bottle labelled as Mansion House Dry Gin during a party with her male companion Joe Cook and friends in Bukit Lawang on April 20.
The late night party was held on the banks of Bahorok River in Bukit Lawang at around 11 p.m.
They bought the liquor in Bukit Lawang. Emmons reportedly vomited several times after drinking it.
The next day, Emmons’ condition deteriorated. She perspired profusely and had breathing difficulties.
At around 8 a.m., Cook took her to the nearest clinic in Bukit Lawang, where the doctor suggested she be immediately taken to a hospital in Medan.
Cook took Emmons to the Colombia Hospital in Medan. On arrival at the hospital, doctors diagnosed Emmons as suffering from methanol poisoning.
“Police will take a statement from doctors who treated the victim to establish the cause of death, whether or not it was due to the effects of drinking adulterated liquor,” said Rosyid.
However, said Rosyid, a dossier was needed.
“We are currently trying to question her relatives or friends. It doesn’t matter if the statements are sent through email, as long as there is material available to make a dossier,” said Rosyid.
He added the police had previously used email statements in a rape case of another tourist.
Emmons’ deaths was the second alcohol-related death of a foreign visitors in Bukit Lawang, a tourism destination popular for the orangutan found in the nature reserve.
The first incident involved a tourist from Australia who drank vodka after swimming in the Bohorok River in January.
Based on police investigation, the Australian tourist’s death was due to a heart attack after drinking too much vodka after swimming.
Earlier this year in Lombok an Australian was killed by a vodka mixer laced with local moonshine.
And in 2009, 25 people died in Bali after drinking arak spirit laced with methanol.
Regarding alcohol supervision at Bukit Lawang, Rosyid said liquor with an alcohol content of more than 5 percent could not be freely sold in the region and must acquire permit from the Trade Ministry.
North Sumatra Industry and Trade Agency’s head of domestic trade division, Rouly Tambunan, said liquor was appropriately distributed in the province.
“So far, we have never found adulterated liquor on the market, but there are many irresponsible people who mix liquor and sell it without our knowledge,” said Rouly.
As part of an effort to prevent the circulation of adulterated alcohol, she added, her office had received an instruction from the agency’s leadership to check alcohol content in alcoholic beverages on the market.