Monday, 25 March 2013

‘Weak’ State Blasted Over Sleman Prison Attack

Markus Junianto Sihaloho | March 25, 2013

Lawmakers have lambasted the government for its failure to protect the public after a brutal attack on Cebongan Prison in Sleman, Yogyakarta, left four people dead. 

An unidentified group of 17 gunmen, wearing face masks and carrying assault rifles, barged into the jail early on Saturday morning, threatening the wardens before executing four prisoners awaiting trial over the death of a soldier. 

Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) secretary general Tjahjo Kumolo said on Sunday that the attack was a major embarrassment for the government. 

“Revenge motives aside, this attack signifies an open attempt to disgrace the ruling government, in particular the Justice and Human Rights Ministry,” he said, warning a spate of similar violence could now be triggered. 

Tjahjo called for all parties caught up in the attack — from Cebongan correctional authorities to the Indonesian military — to be transparent and ready for a full investigation into what happened. 

“This incident indicates there is something wrong with the system,” he said. 

Tjahjo noted a similar case in Papua, where an army post was attacked by rebels, remained unsolved, as did an attack on a police station in Poso, Central Sulawesi. 

Comr. Gen. Sutarman, the National Police’s chief of criminal investigations, said that he had sent a team of officers to look into the incident. 

“The National Police will provide backup for this case. The team is being led by [head of general crime] Brig. Gen. Ari Dono,” he said, adding that the police were still examining the crime scene and had yet to identify the assailants. 

Fadli Zon, the deputy chairman of the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra), said that the country was being taken over by “mafia.” 

“I’ve never heard of such incidents except in action movies,” he said in a statement on Sunday. “The state is powerless and weak in the face of the armed forces. Rule of law is absent and undignified.” 

Fadli said the government must take the executions seriously, and demanded swift steps to apprehend the culprits and ensure that such a shocking attack didn’t happen again. 

“If not taken seriously, the public will lose confidence in law enforcers and they will take justice into their own hands,” he said. “This brutal incident shouldn’t have happened in Indonesia.” 

Separately, Gerindra lawmaker Martin Hutabarat said vigilante acts usually stemmed from a lack of respect for the legal system, which was considered unable — or unwilling — to punish offenders. 

“If the people trust our law enforcers, this incident wouldn’t have happened,” he said. 

Tubagus Hasanuddin, deputy chairman of House Commission I on defense, also called for a strong response from President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.

“This case is not just a matter of discipline. This is an attempt to fight the government. The president must be firm when dealing with this case,” he said on Sunday. 

The public had a right to feel terrorized, Tubagus added, with gunman wielding an arsenal of weaponry and taking over a high-security prison with ease. 

“Where’s the control [from the army and police]? The state can be considered negligent,” he said. 

The Cebongan attack is believed to be linked to a murder at a Slemen club, Hugo’s Cafe, early on Tuesday morning. Special Forces (Kopassus) soldier First Sgt. Heru Santosa allegedly was stabbed to death when he tried to break up a fight at the venue. 

Sleman Police arrested four men in connection with the murder: Hendrik Angel Sahetapi, 31; Yohanes Juan Mambait, 38; Gameliel Yermianto Rohi Riwu, 29; and Adrianus Candra Galaja, 33. 

Around 1:15 a.m on Saturday morning the jail was stormed by men claiming they were police. After unsuccessfully trying to move the suspects out of their cells, they opened fire, killing all four.

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