Mon, 24 Apr 2000

Motive in train killing still a mystery

JAKARTA (JP): Police and officials of state railway firm PT Kereta Api Indonesia (KAI) are still puzzled over Friday's murder of a female passenger on an express Parahyangan train, saying that more information was needed to solve the case.

Chief of Bekasi Police Lt. Col. Sutarman told The Jakarta Post on Sunday that his men had yet to draw any conclusions from the murder case and were waiting for a key witness to recover from his wounds.

Febriana Farida, 22, was stabbed to death on the train (not at Lemah Abang railway station as reported earlier). Her boyfriend, Christianus Budi, 29, suffered serious wounds. The couple was to be married next month.

The case has become difficult to solve since the attacker, Liman, 28, was beaten to death by angry residents living near the station after the suspect tried to escape.

Liman was caught with a blood-smeared knife still in his hand by the train crew after female passengers siting near the victims screamed for help.

At the Lemah Abang station, the train -- heading to Bandung from Jakarta -- stopped to let the crew hand Liman over to local officials for further questioning.

According to media reports, a police officer fired his gun in the air in an effort to push back the large crowd of people who wanted to catch a glimpse of the suspected killer. It was then that he attempted to flee.

"Christianus is the key witness since both Febriana and Liman are dead. But we must wait before we can talk to him," he said over the phone.

"We have tried to question him but his condition prevented us from learning much," he added.

Christianus is being treated at Cipto Mangunkusumo General Hospital in Central Jakarta for his wounds.

Sutarman admitted there were several speculations on the case and said the police would stick to facts based on available evidence.

The Parahyangan train left from Gambir railway station at 5:30 a.m. and made a brief stop at Jatinegara railway station, East Jakarta to carry passengers.

88 passengers rode in two executive cars, 292 passengers in four business cars and there was 107 standing passengers.

Head of PT KAI for Jakarta operational area, Whosep Muktamar, told the Post by phone on Sunday evening that the couple sat one seat behind the suspect.

Based on witness testimony the cause of the killing was unlikely that of robbery.

"We don't know yet what the motive was, whether criminal or personal," he said.

"We have provided the police with passengers able to identify those who were sitting near both victims to help solve the case," he added.

"A female witness claimed that Liman was very nervous after the train left Gambir," said Whosep.

She said Liman reversed the direction of his seat so that it faced her, allowing him to see look at Febriana. Febriana was sitting behind the woman.

"It was as if he was trying to intimidate Febriana by sitting in this position. When I asked him to return his seat to its proper position after leaving Jatinegara station, the suspect went over to Febriana and stabbed her," Whosep quoted the witness as saying.

"It's quite odd because Febriana sat by the window and not on the aisle. It might have been intentional. I don't know for sure," he speculated.

Whosep also revealed an interesting fact that both Febriana and her boyfriend separately booked two tickets on April 14 for their tragic journey.

"Febriana reserved two tickets at 7:51 a.m. while Christianus reserved another two tickets at 6:03 p.m. on the same day for the same trip," he said.

"It's quite strange to me, why would they make two separate reservations? The police will check the authenticity of the hand writing on the reservation forms," he added, while saying Liman sat on one of seats reserved by the victims.

Whosep also dismissed media reports saying there were accomplices in the case.

"On duty officials only caught Liman. They have also secured a knife sheath, an identity card (KTP), four business cards, a Husada hospital visiting card, and a television receipt," he said.

The officials were conductor Suhartono, waiter E. Wisik and Sgt. Maj. Asep Mamat of Police's Mobile Brigade.

It was reported that Liman tried to jump overboard after stabbing both victims, but then hesitated.

"He dumped the knife instead. At this moment, Wisik was able to neutralize him. The suspect admitted to Mamat, who showed up later, that the victim was his wife," Whosep said. (nvn)