Indonesian military arrests 3 soldiers suspected of killing civilian in extortion attempt

Pizaro Gozali Idrus
Indonesian military arrests 3 soldiers suspected of killing civilian in extortion attempt Members of the Presidential Security Forces walk prior to a security sweep at one of the venues of the G20 leaders’ summit in Nusa Dua, Bali, Indonesia, Nov. 14, 2022.
[Dita Alangkara/AP]

The Indonesian military has arrested three soldiers, including one from the elite presidential guard, on charges of torturing and killing a man to extort money, officials said Monday. 

Meanwhile, a video of the visibly bloodied victim groaning in pain while being tortured following his alleged abduction has gone viral on social media. 

The case has drawn widespread attention and condemnation in the country, where human rights groups have long documented abuses by the security forces.

The suspects had allegedly accused the victim of selling illegal drugs so they could extract money from him, said Col. Irsyad Hamdie Bey Anwar, the commander of the Jakarta Military Police. He didn’t disclose when the arrests took place.

“The three suspects have been detained and will be handled in accordance with procedure,” Irsyad told BenarNews, referring to a military tribunal trying the case against the soldiers. 

“The motive is extortion.”

When the victim, Imam Masykur, 25, failed to meet their demand for money, the soldiers tortured him to death and threw his body into a lake in Purwakarta, a regency in West Java, Irsyad said.

Imam’s body was found in nearby Karawang on Aug. 15 and taken to the army hospital for an autopsy.

A relative of Imam’s said he was kidnapped from his home near Jakarta on Aug. 12. Iman’s family found his dead body at a military hospital in the capital on Aug. 24 after days of looking for him.

In the video posted on social media, Imam could be heard asking a relative who he was talking to over the phone to send 50 million rupiah (U.S. $3,725), and saying his captors would kill him if he didn’t pay.

Said Sulaiman, Imam’s cousin, said the video was sent by the soldiers who were torturing him on Aug. 12.

“Imam called his family while being tortured,” Said told BenarNews.

Fauziah, Imam’s mother, denied the suspects’ allegations that her son was a drug dealer.

“That’s false information,” she told BenarNews.

‘No forgiveness for them’

Adm. Yudo Margono, Indonesia’s military chief, expressed his concern over the incident and promised to oversee the case until it was resolved.

“The military chief will see to it that the perpetrators are punished severely – maximum death penalty, minimum life imprisonment,” Julius Widjojono, the head of the military’s public affairs office, told BenarNews.

He also said the soldiers involved in the case would be dismissed from the military.

Human rights groups condemned the actions of the soldiers and called for them to be tried in civil court instead of military court.

Violence by members of the military repeatedly occurs because of a culture of impunity, said Dimas Arya, the coordinator of KontraS, an Indonesian human rights group. He said security forces had been accused of human rights violations in counter-insurgency operations in the Papua region.

“Military crimes are crimes committed by active military personnel during armed conflict or war,” Dimas told BenarNews.

“If we look at history there has never been any initiative or effort for reforms within the military itself.”

A group called the Civil Society Coalition for Security Sector Reform also demanded that the trial be carried out in a civilian court “to ensure that legal proceedings are conducted transparently and accountably.”

Military tribunal proceedings are usually closed to the public.

The coalition said that the military justice system was designed to shield crimes committed by soldiers under the regime of the late President Suharto, the dictator who ruled Indonesia for 32 years until his fall in 1998.

“There should be no cover-ups in resolving this case so that justice for victims and their families can be fulfilled,” Usman Hamid, executive director of Amnesty International Indonesia, who represents the coalition, said in a statement.

Imam’s mother Fauziah demanded the heaviest punishment for her son’s killers.

“We have no forgiveness for them,” she told BenarNews.


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