Fri, 12 May 2000

Police dismayed over street justice murders

JAKARTA (JP): West Jakarta Police and Bekasi Police were dismayed by the number of vigilante murders that occurred on Wednesday evening.

"What can I say? When local residents get angry and get their hands on suspected thieves, there's nothing we can do," West Jakarta police chief Col. Adjie Rustam Ramdja told reporters on the sidelines of the transfer-of-duty ceremony at the South Jakarta Police on Thursday.

Bekasi Police chief Lt. Col. Sutarman added that angered residents with fuel on their hands and "the will to burn," would do so on impulse, irrespective of the consequences.

"It just does not matter anymore whether they really saw the suspected thief or thieves stealing or not. They just gang up together, and burn," Sutarman told reporters in a telephone interview.

Both police chiefs were speaking in reference to the mob burnings of four suspected motorcycle thieves who died in the Jati Murni village of Pondok Gede, Bekasi, at about 7:10 p.m. on Wednesday, and the mob killing of one suspected motorcycle thief in the Duri Kosambi subdistrict of Cengkareng, West Jakarta, on Wednesday at midnight.

In the Cengkareng case, the suspected thief, identified as Ricky, 35, had tried to steal a black Honda Grand Astrea motorcycle, which was being driven by Ronald, 18, a resident of the Kosambi Baru housing complex on Wednesday night.

"Ronald started screaming for help. Residents came and jumped on the suspect and beat him. Ricky died on his way to Kramat Jati police hospital," Adjie said.

In Bekasi, four men -- three unidentified and one identified as Kantra, 27, a resident of Jati Rangon village in Bekasi -- had entered the courtyard of Soeyatno's residence in the Rambutan lane of Jati Murni village and tried to steal Soeyatno's Honda Grand Astrea motorcycle.

"When Soeyatno saw this, he began to scream 'Thief! Thief!', and local residents started chasing the four men," Sutarman said.

"The thieves started running. When residents caught up with them, they beat the four men so badly that they started to uncontrollably defecate while crying out for mercy."

"The four were then stripped naked. Fuel was poured over them. They were burned alive. The stench was horrible." (ylt)