Tue, 08 Feb 2000

Five disgraced Brimob sergeants discharged

JAKARTA (JP): Five police officers of the Mobile Brigade (Brimob) corps accused of taking part in a violent robbery last week were publicly humiliated on Monday when their commander roughly removed their insignias and berets to mark their dismissal from the elite force.

The firing of the five officers, all of whom were second sergeants, took place in an abrupt ceremony at the force headquarters in Kelapa Dua, south of Jakarta, before some 4,000 Brimob corpsmen and dozens of journalists and television crews.

According to Brig. Gen. Firman Gani, commander of the corps, who led the ceremony, the five -- Suharsono, Yusron, Miftahul Huda, Tatit Dwi Putranto and Novianto -- deserved the public humiliation for being dishonorably fired from the police force.

"Thousands of other members of this corps who are putting their lives at risk in Ambon and Aceh, and even the spirits of the late personnel who were killed while on mission in East Timor years ago, must not be willing to accept such behavior carried out by a few unit members who tarnish the image of the corps," Firman said in his speech.

He finally underlined that these five people "have violated Article 365 of Criminal Code for committing armed robbery."

The decision to dismiss the officers was taken after a meeting held a few hours earlier at the headquarters, he said. The meeting, he added, was also attended by the five suspects and their superiors.

Firman, however, did not explain whether, during the meeting, the five admitted to their role in the crime.

Firman hoped the speedy dismissal of the five police officers would help expedite the prosecution of the five for Thursday's robbery and murder at a house in the Permata Hijau housing complex in Kebayoran Lama, South Jakarta.

"We will send them today to the South Jakarta police precinct (for further questioning) as civilians because they're no longer members of the corps," the one-star general told reporters after the ceremony.

Past records

He admitted, however, that some of the five suspects had committed misdemeanors in the past and had been internally punished for their wrongdoings.

"We did not bring them to court (at that time) since we conducted discipline punishment against them," he said without elaborating.

Firman vowed that he and the Mobile Brigade would never hesitate to take stiff measures against crooked personnel within his force.

He added that the low income of the force's members could not be a justification for the officers to commit misdeeds.

"The limited equipment for the troops and wealth for the personnel cannot justify committing crimes," he said.

In his speech, Firman also expressed his condolences to the families of the murder and robbery victims and apologized to the public that the corps members had abused the people's trust.

As reported earlier, the five Brimob sergeants along with five civilian accomplices broke into a house at the Permata Hijau estate and made off with two luxury cars.

A guard at the house, Musa, 50, whose mouth and nose were heavily bandaged by the crooks, died later from asphyxiation.

One of the civilians was shot dead by police on the following day.

The dismissal of the five officers left some wondering about protocol since the court has yet to decide whether or not the five Brimob officers are guilty.

But a noted legal expert, Abdul Hakim Garuda Nusantara, insisted that he strongly supported the police's bid to purify its corps of crooks.

Such humiliation was acceptable, he said separately on Monday.

"If it is a corps tradition, it is no problem since it is part of the corps' attempt to promote internal discipline," he said.

Police officers allegedly involved in crimes cannot be brought to court unless they are dismissed.

"The court proceeding can follow the dismissal. If the court rules the officers not guilty, they can later rejoin their units and ask for the rehabilitation of their names," Abdul Hakim said. (asa)