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Jakarta Post

Watchdog questions police's transparency in handling Depok prison riot

  • Moses Ompusunggu

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, May 9, 2018   /   07:20 pm
Watchdog questions police's transparency in handling Depok prison riot Police officers cordon off a road in front of the Mobile Brigade headquarters (Mako Brimob) in Depok, West Java, on Wednesday morning following a riot inside the Mako Brimob detention center. (Kompas.com/Abba Gabrillin)

A police watchdog has questioned the transparency of the National Police in handling a riot and ongoing standoff between antiterrorism police officers and Islamic State (IS)-linked terrorism convicts at a high-security detention center in Jakarta's neighboring city of Depok, West Java.

On Tuesday evening, a riot occurred at the National Police's Mobile Brigade headquarters (Mako Brimob) detention center in Kelapa Dua, Depok, with early reports stating that shots had been fired during the incident. Pictures showing inmates holding firearms have circulated on social media, as well as tweets saying that IS had claimed responsibility for the riot. 

Five members of the police's antiterrorism squad Densus 88 were killed in the riot and their bodies have been sent to the Kramat Jati Police Hospital in East Jakarta, while another officer is being held hostage by the detainees. One terrorism convict was also killed during the riot.

The Jakarta-based Indonesian Police Watch (IPW) said it was "concerned with the situation at Mako Brimob" but criticized the slowness of the National Police to disclose to the public information about the riot, especially about the fatalities.

"Five officers have been dead since 1 a.m. [Wednesday] yet their deaths were only announced to the public at 4 p.m. [Wednesday]," said IPW chairman Neta S. Pane in a statement received by The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

"Previously, the police said there had been no fatalities during the chaos. This is not a transparent move from the police and is very odd," said Neta.

"As of Wednesday afternoon, the police always claimed the situation was under control. But in fact the detention center is still occupied by the terrorism convicts and an officer still being held hostage."

Neta added that the entire incident had raised concerns over the capability of the police's Brimob to secure "other parties' offices" or high-stake events like the upcoming regional elections in June. 

"With the turmoil at Mako Brimob detention center, it is time for National Police chief to evaluate the position of the Brimob commander to prevent such chaos from happening again at the detention center," said Neta.

According to the Jakarta Police, the riot started as early as 7:30 p.m. on Tuesday. One of the detainees had asked for food that had been brought by a family member, but the food was kept by another police officer. The detainee became upset and incited others to protest, after which rioting broke out. 

The detainees broke through the walls and prison bars and went to the investigators' room, where they began assaulting officers investigating new detainees. 

Sidney Jones, director of Jakarta-based the Institute of Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC), said on Wednesday that, "I think you can safely say that pro-ISIS Indonesians are behind" the riot, referring to the IS by another term.

Mako Brimob detention center houses terrorism convicts and prominent figures like former Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, who was convicted for blasphemy after insulting Islam in 2017.

The standoff between the police and the terrorism convicts was ongoing as of 5 p.m. on Wednesday. (ahw)