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Jakarta Post

‘I was kidnapped’: Govt critic Ravio Patra files pretrial motion against police

  • Ghina Ghaliya
    Ghina Ghaliya

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, June 4, 2020   /   06:26 pm
‘I was kidnapped’: Govt critic Ravio Patra files pretrial motion against police Independent researcher Ravio Patra has filed a pretrial motion against the Jakarta Police for the latter’s move to detain and accuse him of inciting riots through a WhatsApp message broadcast following an alleged hacking of his account in April. (JP/Ghina Ghaliya)

Independent researcher Ravio Patra has filed a pretrial motion against the Jakarta Police for the latter’s move to detain and accuse him of inciting riots through a WhatsApp message following an alleged hacking of his account in April, citing some irregularities during the arrest.

The outspoken government critic says he was arrested on April 22 around Menteng, Central Jakarta, by “unidentified men” while he had been on his way to a “safe house” around midnight, a few hours after his WhatsApp account had returned from being hacked.

Ravio said there were no officers wearing uniforms or showing their identities when the strangers told him to follow them; therefore, he refused to obey to their orders.

"I don’t think it was an arrest. I feel I was kidnapped, because no one showed me their identity or any assignment letter or arrest warrant. I refused to follow strangers,” he said on Thursday.

However, he eventually decided to follow them after one of the men flashed a firearm.

“I surrendered. I squatted and they dragged me to the Jakarta Police headquarters, where I was taken to the police’s violent crimes subdirectorate. An hour after that, we went back to my room, where they searched my belongings without showing me a search warrant.”

Read also: The curious case of Ravio Patra: Why Indonesian cyberspace is a dystopian nightmare

Apart from the pretrial motion, Ravio has also pursued other legal efforts, such as reporting the arrest to the Indonesian Ombudsman, the National Human Rights Commission (Komnas HAM) and the police’s internal affairs division (Propam), among other institutions.

He also reported the alleged hacking to the police and requested information from cellular operators and WhatsApp.

The Criminal Law Procedures Code (KUHAP) allows law enforcement officials to arrest a person allegedly committing a crime based on “sufficient preliminary evidence”. The Constitutional Court has defined preliminary evidence as comprising a minimum of two pieces of evidence, as stipulated in Article 184 of the KUHAP – one of which is an arrest warrant.

Law enforcement officials should note the reason for the arrest in the document, including a brief description of the criminal act allegedly committed. They also must provide a copy of the arrest warrant to the family of the arrestee.

To date, Ravio claimed, police had yet to show any documents to him or his family regarding his arrest.

Police had also yet to return his confiscated belongings, such as a laptop, smartphones and books.

Read also: Law enforcement should learn restraint from Ravio Patra case, Mahfud MD says

Ravio claimed police investigators had questioned him without proper procedures, in which he was forced to sign two investigation reports (BAP) without legal counsel. One of the BAP stipulated his name as a suspect.

"I signed four copies of documents with my name as a suspect. I still asked for legal counsel after that, but they refused.”

Era Purnama Sari of the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), who has accompanied Ravio since the arrest, said he needed to be accompanied by a lawyer during interrogation, because the charges against him carried a prison sentence of more than five years.

She went on to say that the police had hindered lawyers from meeting their client.

“The police asked for a power-of-attorney letter from Ravio, but he couldn’t give it, since he was detained. […] We met Ravio at around 5 p.m. that day. This means they had blocked Ravio’s access to contact anyone for around 12 hours,” Era said.

Era accused the police of “acting against the law, ranging from arresting and questioning him without legal assistance twice as well as searching his personal belongings, which includes changing his e-mail passwords.”

Read also: Intimidation of government critics raises concerns about freedom of speech

Andi Muhammad Rezaldy of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras) asserted Ravio's case was not the only one in Indonesia, saying hacking had become common practice of “terror against government critics” apart from arrests without proper procedure.

A recent case is that of students and professors at Yogyakarta’s Gadjah Mada University (UGM) and Indonesian Islamic University (UII), whose social media accounts were hacked following a planned online discussion about the constitutional mechanism for removing a president from office. They also received death threats and other forms of intimidation.

Tempo newspaper editor-in-chief Budi Setyarso reported on Sunday that his Instagram and Facebook accounts had been “hacked” while he was moderating an online discussion with Ravio and the dean of the UGM School of Law.