Sun, 26 Mar 2000

Police unearth 34 fetuses in two areas

JAKARTA (JP): Depok Police detectives and members of Cipto Mangunkusumo General Hospital's forensic laboratory discovered on Saturday 34 fetuses buried behind a maternity clinic in Cimanggis and in a field in Depok, south of here.

Depok Police chief Lt. Col. Bambang Widaryatmo said the police were tipped off by residents of Pondok Terong, Pancoran Mas, Depok, who had become suspicious of people digging in the field.

"Residents became suspicious after two children spotted two men burying things in plastic bags on Thursday afternoon. The two kids immediately told their father, who happens to be a police officer, what they had seen," Bambang said.

He said the police, local community leaders and residents went to the location to look into the report.

"They dug up the location and found several fetuses inside the plastic bags," Bambang said.

He said the police then coordinated with Dr. Mun'im Idries of Cipto Mangunkusumo's forensic laboratory to excavate the fetuses on Saturday.

Bambang said police had arrested six people allegedly involved in performing illegal abortions. He said they were the owner of the maternity clinic, identified as Habibah, three people who allegedly dug the graves, a midwife and a nurse. Habibah was picked up by Depok Police detectives in Tegal regency, Central Java, on Saturday afternoon.

The 24-hour Anugrah maternity clinic operates out of a rented house near Cisalak market in Cimanggis. The field where the second grave site was found is located in Pancoran Mas, Depok, near Ciliwung River.

Mun'im said the team found four fetuses behind the Anugrah clinic, while the other 30 fetuses were discovered in the field in Pancoran Mas.

"The fetuses were between five and eight months of gestation when they were aborted," he said.

Mun'im said the fetuses were wrapped in plastic bags before being buried. "Each plastic bag contained between one and three fetuses."

"We'll examine the fetuses at Cipto Mangunkusumo hospital's forensic laboratory on Monday." he added.

A staff member at the forensic laboratory, Bambang, said there were five holes with traces of combustion residue in an 18- square-meter area behind the clinic, adding that the holes were covered with garbage cans.

"We dug out four plastic bags containing bones from three of the holes, and found a burned male fetus of eight-months gestation, which was still covered with the placenta," he said.

He said the team's activities at both locations had attracted local residents. "But they could not watch the excavation behind the clinic as it was heavily guarded by police personnel."

In the field in Depok, Bambang said local residents helped the police dig up the grave site.

"They continued digging in the area after the team completed its activities at 12 a.m. and found nine more plastic bags containing fetuses." (06)