Sat, 31 May 2003

Police team likely to bear blame in accidental deaths

Damar Harsanto, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The police team who were at the scene of Monday's shooting in which stray bullets killed two young girls, and injured the mother of one of them in the Taman Sari area of West Jakarta, might have to bear the blame for their failure to anticipate the incident.

"Every police team must hold a briefing before any operation... In the Taman Sari case, the police team did not hold any briefing. That's why all team members might have to take the blame in the incident," said Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Prasetyo.

The police team was chasing alleged drug dealers when First Brig. Budi, one of the team members, mistakenly shot Ina Surtianah, 12, and Eli, a three-and-a-half-year-old toddler, and injured Eli's mother Mela Taskina, 28.

The team was led by First Insp. Heru Julianto, while the team members were First Brig. Mifil Rifadas, First Brig. Arman, Chief Brig. Emirsyah, Brig. Aang Kaharudin, and First Brig. Budi.

Prasetyo said a detailed briefing prior to any police operation had to be made to assign each team member their specific role.

"The briefing must include what the team will do in the worst- case scenario," said Prasetyo, adding that in most cases for reasons of urgency and speed, the briefing is done on the way to the scene.

In the case of the Taman Sari fatal shooting, Prasetyo said, the team did not hold the briefing. "That's why the incident occurred, and that's also why we will ask all team members to bear the blame."

According to Law No. 2, 2002 on police, a police officer who commits any criminal offense, will be tried as an ordinary civilian.

"Those police officers can be charged under Criminal Code Article 359 on negligence that leads to death. The charge carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison," Prasetyo said.

In addition, those police could also be discharged from the police force. "The verdict is in the judge's hand."

Despite the police' promise to bring the case to court, Sukarman, Ina's father expressed doubt that the police would keep their promise.

"There is no point, as poor people like us will never see justice done... I won't sue them (the policemen)," said the public minivan driver.

Witnesses at the scene said earlier that First Brig. Budi was firing like a mad cowboy when some stray bullets from his pistol hit three bystanders.

Prasetyo also admitted that such incidents, were mainly due to the unstable psychological state of the police officer in question.

"Most of the incidents where people are hit by stray bullets are related to the officer's psychological condition rather than a technical failure," remarked Prasetyo.

Prasetyo explained that a policeman or policewoman must undergo a series of psychological tests and target practice every six months.

"But, we acknowledge that such requirements bring no guarantee a policeman won't do anything wrong on the job. Real situations in the field, in most cases, play a significant role," Prasetyo said.

The police use their discretion based on the actual situation, to decide whether or not to open fire, Prasetyo said.

Cases of accidental shootings in Jakarta:

Date Victim Feb. 28, 2001 Yudianto, 31 was shot dead by a stray bullet

by a West Jakarta Police detective. Case


June 26, 2001 Cecep, 21, was shot dead by a stray bullet fired

by First Brig. Dongar Panjaitan who was chasing

two alleged pickpockets. Case unresolved.

July 17, 2001 First Brig. Kurniawan misfired and hit Iwan, a resident of Pejaten Timur, South Jakarta in the back.

March, 14, 2002 Yuli Anggraeni, 14, was accidentally shot

by an officer who was trying to break up a

student brawl on Jl. Gebas, Ciracas, East Jakarta.

Case unresolved.

Nov, 12, 2002 Maido Saut Gabe, 19, was injured in his right hand

by a stray bullet while playing chess in

Ciracas, East Jakarta.

Aug. 26, 2002 Ali Wardani Tambunan alias Pinayungan was accidentally shot by Second Brig. Winarto on Jl. Kalimalang, Bekasi.