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Jakarta Post

Group of men allegedly burn transgender woman to death, escape murder charges

  • Rizki Fachriansyah
    Rizki Fachriansyah

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, April 10, 2020   /   08:26 am
Group of men allegedly burn transgender woman to death, escape murder charges A passerby hugs an activist campaigning for the rights of the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) community during Car Free Day in Jakarta on Sunday, June 16, 2019. (JP/Seto Wardhana)

The North Jakarta Police have charged a group of men who allegedly burned a 42-year-old transgender woman to death with aggravated assault.

A total of six suspects face charges under Article 170 of the Criminal Code, which stipulates that individuals who are found to have collectively used lethal violence against a person face 12 years in prison.

The police had apprehended three of the six suspects, identified only as AP, RT and AH, as of Thursday afternoon.

The violence purportedly took place in Cilincing after the suspects accused Mira of stealing a truck driver’s phone and wallet. The truck driver had parked his vehicle near Mira’s rented room.

North Jakarta Police chief Sr. Comr. Budhi Herdi Susianto said the suspects hit her with a wooden log before dousing gasoline all over her so that she would confess to the alleged theft. They then proceeded to pull out a lighter with the intention of threatening her, he said.

“After AP poured gasoline all over her, PD threatened the victim by pulling out a lighter while saying, ‘Watch out, I’m going to burn you, I’m going to burn you,” Budhi said as quoted on Thursday as quoted by tempo.co.

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He said fire from the lighter inadvertently set off the gasoline, burning the victim alive.

Amnesty International Indonesia director Usman Hamid conveyed his disappointment in the authorities’ “lackluster” investigation of the murder, which he said only resulted in a relatively light assault charge.

“We still maintain that what the suspects did was carry out a despicable murder. The police should have conducted a more robust investigation, instead of taking the suspects at their word,” Usman told the Post on Thursday.

He said the suspects obviously intended to “do more than just threaten” Mira, as they had gone out of their way to procure gasoline beforehand.

Usman called on the police to step up their investigation before proceeding with the “premature” assault charge.

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Mira, who previously lived in Bekasi, West Java, before moving to North Jakarta, died at 12 p.m. on Sunday after she was admitted to Koja General Regional Hospital in Koja district, North Jakarta, on Saturday morning.

The legal advocacy team for Mira’s case – which comprises members of several rights groups – condemned the violence that resulted in her death, calling it “a form of transphobia”.

In a statement issued on Wednesday, the team called on the government to uphold the rights of lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender (LGBT) individuals to prevent similar incidents from taking place in the future.

The team also expressed support for the North Jakarta Police’s ongoing efforts to apprehend the remaining suspects who are currently still at large.