Sacked Indonesian police general stands trial over subordinate killing

Arie Firdaus
Sacked Indonesian police general stands trial over subordinate killing Ferdy Sambo, former Indonesian police inspector general, attends his South Jakarta District Court trial, Oct. 17, 2022.
Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana/Reuters

A former police inspector general and his wife went on trial Monday for allegedly working together to kill a low-ranking police officer at their home – charges that could carry the death penalty if they are found guilty of premeditated murder.

The sensational case has shined a spotlight on perceived excesses by members of Indonesia’s national police force.

“The defendant considered calmly and carefully all his actions and the consequences of his actions which could result in loss of life,” chief prosecutor Sugeng Hariadi said while reading from the indictment, a copy of which was obtained by BenarNews.

Brig. Nopriansyah Yosua Hutabarat was killed at Ferdy Sambo’s official residence on July 8. Police had initially said a patrolman killed Yosua in a shootout, after he caught him sexually assaulting Sambo’s wife, Putri Candrawathi.

Yosua’s relatives and advocates challenged the assault allegation by claiming the killing was premeditated.

In opening remarks, prosecutors said Sambo, 49, asked Second Patrolman Richard Eliezer if he had “the guts” to shoot Yosua, moments before he did so.

“You shoot, you shoot quickly. Come on, shoot!” the indictment quoted Sambo as telling Eliezer.

Eliezer fired his handgun three to four times at Yosua, causing him to collapse in a pool of blood. Sambo, wearing gloves, then fired a bullet into the victim’s head, killing him instantly, according to the indictment.

The prosecution said Putri was present when the two discussed killing Yosua, who was assigned to be her chauffeur. She cooperated with her husband instead of trying to stop Sambo from going ahead with the plan, the indictment said.  

“Instead of telling the defendant Ferdy Sambo to refrain from carrying out his evil plans, the couple actually worked together,” the prosecutor said.

The pair could face the death penalty if convicted of premeditated murder.


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Putri Candrawathi, the wife of former Indonesian police official Ferdy Sambo, appears in the South Jakarta District Court in Jakarta where they are standing trial on premeditated murder charges, Oct. 17, 2022. [Ajeng Dinar Ulfiana/Reuters]

Sambo, wearing a brown batik shirt, sat passively and at times closed his eyes as the prosecutors took turns reading the nearly100-page indictment.

Defense lawyer Sarmauli Simangunsong argued that the indictment was “incomplete” and “vague” and called for her client to be acquitted.

The lawyer accused Yosua of making a threat to Putri that he would shoot her family after he allegedly tried to sexually assault her. 

“If you tell Ferdy Sambo, I’ll shoot you, Ferdy Sambo and your children,” Yosua allegedly said, according Sarmauli.

The couple’s trial is to resume on Thursday while a trial against Eliezer for his role in the killing is to begin Tuesday.


Following the murder, amid a public outcry, national Police Chief Listyo Sigit Prabowo set up a special team to investigate the case. The team exhumed Yosua’s body and worked with an independent forensics team to conduct an autopsy.

Eliezer told investigators that he killed Yosua on Sambo’s order and agreed to cooperate in return for possible leniency, according to his then-defense lawyer Muhammad Burhanuddin. Eliezer also said Sambo had fired Yosua’s gun at the wall to make it appear as if they had a gunfight.

Sambo was arrested in August and a police ethics tribunal dishonorably dismissed him from the force last month.

He and six other high-ranking police officers – all now dismissed – were charged with obstruction of justice for alleged attempts to destroy evidence, including removing security cameras from Sambo’s house.

Sambo gave Eliezer and two other alleged accomplices a mobile phone each and promised them a total of 2 billion rupiah (U.S. $187,000) in cash in August if things went according to plan, according to the prosecution.

Analyst: ‘Clear and robust’

Gayus Lumbuun, a former Supreme Court justice, said the indictment was “clear and robust.”

“For me there is no doubt. It’s just a matter of how the prosecutors defend their case,” Gayus told BenarNews.

Previously, Mohammad Mahfud MD, coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs, said there needed to be a change of culture within the police and warned the ranks against “greed, arrogance and hedonism.”

Sambo’s perceived wealth has put a spotlight on the lifestyles of high-ranking police with people questioning their sources of income considering senior officers’ relatively modest salaries.


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