Fri, 05 Sep 2003

Police dismish Brimob commander

Erik W. and La Remmy, The Jakarta Post, Palu, Central Sulawesi

Three days after the deaths of four police recruits at the Central Sulawesi Police paramilitary Mobile Brigade (Brimob) training academy, authorities fired on Thursday the province's Brimob unit commander.

Central Sulawesi Police Chief Brig. Gen. M. Taufik Ridha confirmed that National Police Chief Gen. Da'i Bachtiar ordered the dismissal of Adj. Sr. Comr. Hersom Bagus Pribadi in connection with the incident.

During a ceremony on Thursday, Taufik swore in Adj. Sr. Comr. Abdi Dharma who previously was assigned in once-restive Poso regency as the commander to replace Hersom.

"The National Police leadership has taken this action to show its accountability to the public in connection with the incident," Taufik said after the ceremony.

The four new recruits identified as First Adj. Brig. Yohanis Tulas, First Adj. Brig. Denny Karya, First Adj. Brig. Sutaji Takasihaeng and First Adj. Brig. Sahilu, died soon after undertaking a 13-kilometer initiation march conducted by the Brimob unit on Tuesday.

A witness said they were severely beaten during the march.

Da'i has also sent "a professional ethics team" consisting Mobile Brigade Commander Insp. Gen. S.Y. Wenas and National Police Chief of Profession and Security Insp. Gen. Timbul Silaen to look into the case.

Taufik said that a special team assigned to investigate the case had already questioned 10 people, including the instructors involved in the deadly initiation exercise for 164 new Brimob recruits.

"A preliminary investigation indicates torture," Taufik conceded, promising that the police would bring the perpetrators to court.

Central Sulawesi Police Medics and Health Chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Budi Rahardjo declined to reveal the result of the autopsies conducted.

Taufik added that six other new Brimob recruits were also rushed to Palu General Hospital with in serious condition after the tortuous march and they were still undergoing intensive medical treatment.

Meanwhile, Central Sulawesi councillor Firman Maranua said that the city council was waiting for the results of the investigation of the case before they would summon Taufik to be questioned.

He said that the council would speak with Taufik if the investigation revealed violations in formal procedure during the initiation.

"If the fatalities were caused by torture, Pak Taufik must also be dismissed from his post," Firman said.