Sat, 28 Jun 2003

Indonesia's 'Hannibal Lector' gets 5 years

Agus Maryono, The Jakarta Post, Purbalingga, Central Java

The Purbalingga District Court sentenced self-confessed cannibal Sumanto to five years in jail on Friday, but only based upon theft charges in the absence of specific legislation on cannibalism.

Prosecutors had demanded a seven-year jail term. The 31-year old Sumanto was charged with stealing the corpse of Rinah, 80, which he said he wanted to eat.

"Based on the expert testimony, the theft of a corpse may be classified as a violation of Article 363 of the Criminal Code," presiding judge Soemardijatmo said while reading out the verdict.

Villagers in the Pelumutan area in Purbalingga regency caught Sumanto red-handed as was he was digging out Rinah's corpse in a local public cemetery last January. He later admitted to eating two foolhardy men who attempted to rob him. However no murder charges were proffered against him.

Sumanto said that he cooked the human flesh, charred it, fried it or ate it raw. Sumanto also admitted he had a taste for other types of meat, saying he liked eating cats, dogs, rats and snakes, when human corpses were not available.

The granny-eating Sumanto said he wanted to consume seven corpses as part of his quest to obtain supernatural powers.

Judge Soemardijatmo criticized the prosecutors for failing to charge Sumanto under traditional laws for his unusual epicurean tastes.

"The defendant's cannibalistic behavior clearly violates traditional laws, social norms and religious values," he said.

"These (violations) should have been laid against him so that the panel of judges could engage in a process of legal revelation that would be of benefit to the development of national law."

Sumanto said he would appeal the verdict. "Thank you Pak Hakim (Judge). I object to the verdict and I will file an appeal," said the Indonesia's very own Hannibal Lector, who appeared calm, if hungry, throughout the trial.

Nurachyo, who coordinated Sumanto's 13-lawyer defense team, insisted that stealing a corpse did not constitute a crime as a corpse had no intrinsic economic value.

In addition, he said, Sumanto was mentally ill and could not be held accountable for his actions.

"That's why it's obvious we must appeal this verdict, which was unjustly handed down on a mentally ill person," the lawyer told reporters after the trial.