Thu, 25 Aug 1994

Investigation bogged down as `crucial' evidence burnt

JAKARTA (JP): Police said yesterday that the investigation into Johny Sembiring's kidnap-murder was complicated because his car, which could be used as key evidence, had been incinerated.

"The car was an important piece of evidence. Unfortunately, it was burned along with several other, potentially important pieces of evidence inside when police recovered it," Brig. Gen. I Ketut Ratta, National police spokesman, told reporters yesterday.

Brig. Gen. Rusdihardjo, Chief of the Criminal Investigation Division for the Indonesian National Police, told reporters on Tuesday that he was optimistic that the kidnap-murder case of ex- con Johny Sembiring would be solved soon due to adequate evidence and the existence of a living witness.

"This is not so difficult a case so, I think, we can quickly solve it," Rusdihardjo said.

Sembiring's car, a BMW sedan, was discovered by Tambun district police unlocked with the doors closed and the backseat carpeting, rear section and part of the front seat burnt at 7.30 p.m. on Friday infront of PT Polyco on Jl. Hasanuddin, Tambun, Bekasi.

"Police have yet to find the individuals who burned the car. But whoever they are, there is no doubt that their intention was to destroy the evidence," said Ratta.

The sedan was still stored at the Bekasi police precinct as of yesterday.

Ratta said that, thus far, police had based their investigation of the case on the testimony of Sembiring's driver Tumiran, 28, who had been "strangely" released alive by his captors; and the victim's property which had been confiscated from his dead body, including a gold ring, jewel-beset ring, blue handkerchief and golden lighter.


Ratta refused to comment on the reports that another witness, a serviceman, had been questioned in connection with the case.

Sembiring, 62, was a prominent ex-con who had served a series of jail terms but promised to abandon his life of crime in the 1980s. After his 'reform,' he became a successful debt collector and part-time evangelist to inmates.

Sembiring and Tumiran were kidnapped by a group of seven unidentified men at around 5 p.m. on Jl. Tanah Abang II, Central Jakarta, while they were on their way home.

Tumiran was freed by the captors Thursday evening in Jonggol district, Bogor, while Sembiring was killed and dumped in the nearby area of Cariu district, Bogor.

In a related development, speculation that Sembiring had been shot dead by his kidnappers -- which surfaced in the beginning of the case -- revived yesterday. Merdeka daily quoted Indonesia National Police Chief Gen. Banurusman as saying that there was a bullet wound on Sembiring's body.

"The investigation into the case is continuing. The one thing that's certain is there was a bullet wound on the body of the deceased," said Banurusman.

Ratta said the daily had misquoted Banurusman and reiterated that the results of preliminary post-mortem examination showed that there were no bullet wounds on Sembiring's body. (jsk)