Tue, 06 May 2003

'Deflected bullet may have killed bus driver'

Nana Rukmana and Muninggar Sri Saraswati, The Jakarta Post, Cirebon/Jakarta

A bus driver allegedly shot dead by a police officer in a dispute that incited a mob to attack a police station in the West Java town of Cirebon, may have died from a ricocheting bullet, according to forensic reports on Monday.

The forensic team of the Gunung Djati Hospital in Cirebon said the bus driver, Anjani, was not killed by a direct shot to the head.

The head of the hospital forensic team, Hiesma, said they had found six slivers of metal belonging to a bullet in the right side of the victim's head.

"We suspect the metal fragments belong to a bullet which had rebounded off another target," he said.

The autopsy also revealed that the victim was drunk while he was driving the bus.

Paliman Police chief First. Insp. Bambang S. allegedly shot dead the 29-year-old bus driver, who worked for the Bhineka bus company.

The incident occurred on Sunday when Bambang's car, a Daihatsu Taft, was hit from behind by the bus Anjani was driving. No one was injured in the collision, but Anjani drove off from the accident scene. Bambang stopped a passing Suzuki Escudo to pursue him. He almost overtook the bus, causing Anjani to accelerate. As a result, Anjani hit a parked bus, lost control of the wheel and hit a food stall before coming to a full stop.

Witnesses said Bambang shot Anjani after ordering him to step out of the bus.

The shooting prompted a mob of about 100 bus drivers and crew members to attack the Paliman Police station, damaging parts of the building and causing a major traffic jam along the north coast's main road.

Hiesma said he was sure that the bullet that killed Anjani had ricocheted off another object. But to confirm the team's findings, police need to reexamine the site of the shooting and crosscheck it with Bambang's statements, he said.

"Based on the initial examination of the site we weren't able to find the angle from which the bullet was fired, so we need to reexamine it more carefully," he said.

West Java Police chief Insp. Gen. Dadang Garnida said Bambang was suspended, pending the investigation's outcome.

Police are allowed to shoot escaping or attacking suspects in the leg, but only after firing a warning shot in the air.