Fri, 12 Sep 2003

Dead recruit's parents warn against manipulation of case

Jongker Rumthe, The Jakarta Post, Manado, North Sulawesi

Parents of four police recruits, who died last week during a harsh initiation ritual, said on Thursday they could not accept their sons' deaths and demanded severe punishment for all those involved in the case.

The bereaved families, along with many other residents from the regencies of Sangihe and Talaud, North Sulawesi, strongly urged the authorities to thoroughly probe the Sept. 1 incident in neighboring Central Sulawesi province.

The four new recruits to the Central Sulawesi Police's paramilitary Mobile Brigade (Brimob) unit died, reportedly from being beaten repeatedly during a 13-kilometer initiation march.

Three of them -- Second Pvt. Yohanis Tulas, Second Pvt. Denny Karya Yanis, Second Pvt. Sutaji Takasihaeng -- were from Sangihe, and another one Second Pvt. Sahilu was the neighboring regency of Talaud.

Jaya Janis, the father of Denny, warned police investigators against manipulating the results of the investigation.

"We ask the Central Sulawesi Police chief to take harsh action against Brimob officers who violated the rules that caused the deaths of my son and three others. And they must not mess with the legal proceedings of this case," Jaya told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

Hanny Tulas, the father of Yohanis, said that his family was extremely shocked.

"I've left everything to God. Hopefully, autopsies will reveal the cause of the deaths and those responsible," he said.

Hanny said that he did not expect the death of his son, who left his village to follow his dream of becoming a police officer.

"Before he left to Palu (Central Sulawesi), Yohanis looked so happy because his dream had nearly come true. But, it was his last meeting with me," he said.

A hospital source stated that the mouths of the dead officers were covered with blood, and there were indications of severe bruising on the bodies. Local villagers along the route of the march also claimed they had seen the recruits being "tortured" as they marched.

The four dead Brimob personnel were part of a group of 164 new recruits who were taking part in the ritual march as the last phase in their training prior to their official appointment as qualified police officers.

Separately, Deputy Sangihe Regent Wisnu Salindeho told the Post that the residents of Sangihe and Talaud were upset by the deaths of their neighbors' children.

"Three of them came from Sangihe. Their deaths have made many residents here very sad. They cannot accept it. They have held rallies twice at my office and at the Sangihe legislative council to demand the perpetrators be brought to justice," he said.

Salindeho said the protesters wanted the authorities to punish the perpetrators as harshly as possible.

Sangihe District Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Jemmi Lombo said he too was sad.

"We're disappointed and sad about these deaths. Therefore, the case should be probed and tried in a court of law," he asserted.

A Central Sulawesi councillor, Firman Maranua, had earlier said that the council would summon Central Sulawesi Police chief Brig. Gen. Taufik Ridha to give a full account of the incident.

Taufik has already fired the commander of the province's Brimob unit, just three days after the deaths of the police recruits.

A special team assigned to investigate the case is currently questioning witnesses, including the instructors of the deadly initiation ritual.