The Army (TNI AD) has denied allegations that two of its members were involved in the slaying of a family of four in Langkat, North Sumatra.
The soldiers, identified as Chief Pvt. Pujianto and Chief Pvt. Samsunardi Saragih from the Army’s Medium Air Defense Artillery Battalion (Arhanudse) in Binjai, were alleged to have assisted two civilians who murdered farmer Misnan, 46, his wife Sulia, 46, and their two children, Dedek, 21, and Tria, 14, on Oct. 9, 2013.
Unlike the civilian suspects who face the death penalty under two counts of premeditated murder, the soldiers will only be charged with receiving stolen goods as they allegedly took a motorcycle belonging to Misnan from the suspects.
TNI AD spokesperson Brig. Gen. Andhika Perkasa said on Friday that, based on investigations by the Army’s military police, both soldiers were in fact some distance from the crime scene when the murders took place.
According to the testimony of 12 witnesses, Pujianto at the time was attending a tahlilan (Koran recitation) to mark the third day since the death of his wife in Tanjung Morawa Pekan, Deli Serdang regency.
“Pujianto was around 80 kilometers from the crime scene [at Tanjung Keliling plantation], or three hours’ drive away,” Andhika said in a statement.
Meanwhile, Samsunardi was sleeping in his barracks at Arhanudse headquarters, located around 40 kilometers from the crime scene
The investigation only found evidence that the soldiers accepted the victim’s motorcycle from the civilian suspects, identified as Alamsyah and Rendi, a day after the murder.
According to Andhika, the military police sent the case dossiers to the military prosecutors last week.
Previously, the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) and the victim’s family demanded the soldiers be tried in a civilian court due to concerns that the military court system protected soldiers.
Kontras questioned the military police’s decision not to charge the soldiers with murder, despite evidence presented to them by the Langkat Police.
It was alleged that one of the civilian suspects, identified as Alamsyah, promised the soldiers Rp 100 million (US$8,600) if they took part in the murders.
Responding to Kontras’ demand, Andhika said that the military welcomed any new evidence or testimony in connection to the case.
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