Fri, 05 Sep 2003

50 students questioned over abused

Yuli Tri Suwarni, The Jakarta Post, Bandung

Police here were questioning around 50 students of the Public Administration Institute (STPDN) in Sumedang, West Java, on Thursday in connection with the mysterious death of a fellow student, Wahyu Hidayat.

Wahyu, 20, died on Tuesday night after allegedly being beaten by older students at the institute, which has a reputation for imposing military-style discipline on its students.

Sumedang Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Yoyok Subagyo, speaking to journalists at the STPDN campus, said the preliminary investigation confirmed that the victim had died from bullying.

Only 26 of the 50 students were later taken to the local police station for further questioning about their roles in the incident, he added.

An STPDN student, who requested anonymity, said senior students had decided to teach Wahyu a "lesson" as they considered him to have been disloyal.

The victim was subjected to bullying and beating for three hours in an open area east of the institute's sports hall starting at 11 p.m. on Tuesday night, the unnamed student said.

"After that, he (Wahyu) passed out and was taken to the first- aid room on the campus. But he was already dead by the time he got there," he added.

Another student said Wahyu was faulted by senior students for failing to attend an annual meeting with West Java Governor Danny Setiawan two weeks ago.

The meeting was deemed important by the older STPDN students, who usually use the forum to ask for "pocket money" from the governor on top of the Rp 5 million (US$595) allowance allocated by the West Java provincial budget for each of the students from the province.

Wahyu, from Bogor, West Java, was a first semester student at the institute, which is run by the Ministry of Home Affairs.

The alleged beating of Wahyu took place around the same time as the announcement of the results of the latest intake of around 1,200 new students at 11 p.m. on Tuesday.

STPDN administrators refused to comment on the killing, and journalists and police officers were prevented by security guards from entering the campus.

It was only at 5 p.m. that a team of police detectives was finally allowed to enter.

A spokesman for the institute said its senate members were discussing the imposition of academic sanctions on the senior students believed to have been responsible for the death.

Wahyu's body was taken to the Al Islam Hospital in Bandung, West Java, early on Wednesday.

A doctor at the hospital said Wahyu died from head injuries. He did not elaborate further.

The STPDN had rejected the hospital's request that the deceased's body be brought to Hasan Sadikin Hospital for an autopsy, and instead sent it home to Bogor on Wednesday morning, the doctor added.

In March 2000, STPDN student Erie Rakhman, 22, died after being beaten by seven older students.

Erie died several hours after being taken to the Al Islam Hospital. He is believed to have been beaten with a blunt object.

The seven students charged with the killing were convicted and sentenced to jail terms by the Sumedang District Court.