6 Indonesian Militants Sentenced to Death for Deadly 2018 Prison Riot

Riza Chadijah
6 Indonesian Militants Sentenced to Death for Deadly 2018 Prison Riot Officers rest outside the detention center at the headquarters of Mobile Brigade, the elite police unit, in Depok, Indonesia, May 10, 2018.

An Indonesian court has sentenced to death six terrorism convicts for their involvement in a prison riot in 2018 during which five police officers were killed, a court official said Thursday.

Judges at the East Jakarta District Court delivered the sentences against Wawan Kurniawan, 45, Syawaludin Pakpahan, 46, Anang Rahman, 55, Handoko, 36, Suyanto, 44, and Suparman, 38, on Wednesday in an online session attended remotely by the defendants, said the official, Alex Adam.

“All the defendants stated that they accepted the verdicts and would not appeal,” Alex told reporters.

They were found guilty of planning and carrying out the riot at the prison run by the police Mobile Brigade (Brimob) in Depok, south of Jakarta, on May 8, 2018. The riot involved 155 prisoners and lasted 40 hours.

In delivering the verdicts, a judge called the six men’s actions “sadistic and inhumane,” Alex said. The judges agreed with the prosecutors, who recommended that the defendants be sentenced to death.

Police had said the riot started after a quarrel between a guard and an inmate over food. Officials said rioters attacked guards, seized their weapons and held an officer hostage.

Police said the five dead officers had been tortured, with most suffering deep neck wounds and other injuries. Four other officers were injured, including an officer who was taken hostage.

‘IS claimed responsibility’

Prosecutors said the defendants began meeting in January 2018 to plan “a terrorist act” in the prison where they were being detained or serving sentences for terrorism-related offenses.

Authorities said the inmates had armed themselves with about 30 weapons taken from an area where the prison stored contraband seized during police operations. Other preparations for the riot included physical training and creating duplicate keys, authorities said.

To help end the standoff, police allowed the inmates to meet with cleric Aman Abdurrahman, the de facto leader of Indonesian supporters of the Islamic State (IS) terror group, who was being held at a nearby building in the compound.

Abdurrahman was sentenced to death a month later following his conviction on charges linked to ordering terror attacks beginning in 2016.

IS claimed that its fighters were responsible for the riot, and called supporters to storm the compound to help free Abdurrahman, according to the SITE Intelligence Group, a U.S.-based website that monitors extremist activity and communications on social media.

In 2019, a court in Jakarta sentenced Dita Siska Millenia, 18, to two years and eight months in prison after finding her guilty of trying to assist the rioters in the wake of the riot.

Police arrested Dita and seven others for allegedly trying to storm the prison after the riot. A man who stabbed an officer guarding a post outside the Brimob headquarters was shot and killed.

Police also killed another suspect as he allegedly tried to strangle officers who were arresting him in the nearby city of Bekasi on suspicion that he and others were heading toward the detention center to assist the inmates.

Death sentences criticized

The death sentences were unlikely to trigger retaliation from other militants, said Sidney Jones, director of the Jakarta-based Institute for Policy Analysis of Conflict (IPAC).

“I think the possibility is not that big because if we look at it, there was no reaction after the death sentence against Aman Abdurrahman,” Jones told BenarNews.

Jones said the defendants should have been sentenced to life in prison instead of death.

“I don’t agree with the death penalty for anyone. It's inhuman punishment,” she said.

On Wednesday, Amnesty International said death sentences handed out by Indonesian courts increased by 46 percent in 2020 compared to the previous year.

At least 117 people were sentenced to death in 2020 for drug trafficking and murder, compared to 80 in the previous year.

“At a time when the state should be saving as many lives as possible from the coronavirus, it has handed out death sentences to more people,” Usman Hamid, executive director of Amnesty International Indonesia, said in a statement.

“This will undermine Indonesia's credibility in the eyes of the international community.”


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