Indonesia: Family of Man Who Died in Police Custody Seeks Criminal Charges

Kusumasari Ayuningtyas
2016.05.16
Klaten, Indonesia
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160516_ID_Siyono_relatives_1000a.jpg Relatives of a man who died in custody report suspected criminal acts by members of Densus 88 in Klaten, Central Java, May 15, 2016.
Kusumasari Ayuningtyas/BenarNews

The family of a man who died while in custody of Indonesia’s counterterrorism police is pressing for criminal charges in the case, saying they are not satisfied with the discipline meted out by a police ethics panel.

Relatives told police in Klaten, Central Java, in a 90-minute meeting on Sunday that they believe criminal acts of homicide and assault caused the death of Siyono, 35, who was taken into custody by Densus 88 on March 8 and died three days later.

Police allege that Siyono was the leader of a new offshoot of Jemaah Islamiyah (JI), the terrorist group responsible for the 2002 Bali bombing.

Activists with Muhammadiyah, the second largest Muslim group in Indonesia, accompanied Siyono’s widow and father as they made their statement to police.

“The family is just now reporting criminal acts, as they were waiting to see how the police would take responsibility for this case,” Muhammadiyah official Trisno Raharjo told BenarNews on Monday.

The family sent a letter to National Police chief Badrodin Haiti on April 18 asking him to treat the case as a criminal matter, but there has been no response, he added.

Transferred

In their report to police, family members allege that two members of Densus 88 – identified as Superintendent T and Second Inspector H – caused Siyono’s death, and the police force took steps to cover that up, according to Trisno.

When the family retrieved the body, two policewomen handed 100 million rupiah (U.S. $7,486) to Siyono’s widow, Suratmi, and asked her to sign a letter saying she would not contest the death, he said.

Further, forensic doctor Arif Wahyono gave a false cause in the death certificate issued on March 11, he said.

The family believes the sanctions handed down by a police ethics panel are insufficient, Trisno said.

“We are asking that everyone who was involved be investigated, including the person giving the orders,” he said.

A police commission on ethics and professionalism on May 11 ordered the two Densus 88 members receive a no-confidence demotion, meaning they won’t be recommended for further work with Densus 88.

“As punishment, they must apologize to the Police Institution and be transferred out of Densus 88 to another work unit for a minimum of four years,” police spokesman Boy Rafli Amar told reporters in Jakarta.

“Both men have apologized, but are appealing the decision of the panel,” he added.

Suratmi said the matter should not end with the police ethics panel.

“There was something amiss in the death of my husband. I want justice under Indonesian law,” she said.

Blunt trauma

Klaten District Police Chief Faizal confirmed that he had received the report filed by Siyono’s family.

“Possibly the handling of this will be transferred to police headquarters,” he said, without elaborating.

Siyono was buried in a cemetery in his home town before dawn on March 13, but his corpse was disinterred for autopsy on April 3.

The autopsy found that he had suffered six broken ribs and a fractured sternum caused by blunt trauma to the chest cavity that affected heart tissue, causing his death.

That contradicted earlier police statements that Siyono had died from bleeding in his head after fighting with his guard in a moving vehicle.

A forensic team headed by doctor Gatot Suharto did find a head wound, but said it did not bleed or cause his death.

Moreover, forensic evidence suggested that Siyono did not resist the assault, as there were no wounds on his body typically incurred through self-defense.

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