Tue, 05 Aug 2003

Four years search only to find son's grave

Damar Harsanto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

William Shakespeare said in The Merchant of Venice "Truth will come to light; murder cannot be hid long". This was the case for couple Adiwarsono and Juli Ermini.

After searching for nearly four years, they finally found their missing son Novianto Handoko, nicknamed Avi or Novi.

"Mother always prayed, asking God to help us find Novi alive or dead," Novi's older brother Wardiono, 33, said at the City Police Headquarters on Monday.

His mother's prayers were answered in early July.

"Mother was strong when she heard that Novi was dead. Our relatives are helping her to overcome her grief," said Wardiono, representing his family.

"All this time we believed that he was still alive. We discovered his body buried in Pondok Ranggon cemetery in Bekasi in the unidentified persons section," he added.

Novi went missing three years and eight months ago on Dec. 22 along with his Timor car, only a month after his graduation from the Trisakti University's School of Economics.

"We reported his disappearance to the police on Dec. 25. Since we believed he was alive we didn't bother to check the Cipto Mangunkusumo General Hospital's morgue. Later, we discovered that Novi was buried on Dec. 27," said Wardiono.

He recognized Novi's body early last month after the police contacted the family and asked them to look through a collection of photos.

Wardiono identified his younger brother by a scar on the forehead.

"The scar was made when he was stung by a bee as a child," he said.

Novi's body was moved to Kalirajut cemetery in Banyumas, Central Java, on July 12.

Adj. Comr. Ali Adham, the detective in charge of the case said that Novi was allegedly strangled to death by his cousin, Setya Adri Wibowo alias Wibowo, 27, and Wibowo's friend Syarif Handoyo Hidayatmoko alias Syarif, 27.

Novi's body was then dumped in a ditch on Jl. Jatipadang, Kebagusan, South Jakarta.

Wardiono said that his family had suspected that Wibowo was behind Novi's disappearance because Wibowo answered whenever they tried to call Novi's cell-phone.

"We were just about to confront Wibowo and he fled... We were unaware of his location until the police informed us he had been arrested," he said.

Police later named Wibowo, Syarif and another friend identified as Mulkam, who is still at large, as suspects in the homicide.

"He (Wibowo) is charged with the Criminal Code article 340 on premeditated murder, which carries the maximum death penalty," said Ali.

Wibowo, who sold Novi's car for only Rp 3.75 million (US$441), apologized to the victim's family for his wrongdoings.

"It was very bad and wicked... I had the heart to kill my own cousin," he said, adding that he had repented after studying at an Islamic boarding school in East Java for three years during his run.