Thu, 13 Apr 2000

Severed hand stolen out of morgue: Police

JAKARTA (JP): South Jakarta police detectives will question several morgue and forensic staff members of the Cipto Mangunkusumo General Hospital over a severed hand which was sent on Monday to a woman in Setiabudi subdistrict, South Jakarta.

"We suspect the hand was stolen out of the hospital's morgue," South Jakarta Police chief of detectives Maj. Rycko Amelza Daniel said on Wednesday.

"The hand was most likely cut off the corpse of suspected thief Rudy, alias Hendrik, after his body was put in the morgue on April 5."

Hendrik was shot to death by East Jakarta Police over a reported theft on April 5. Police took the corpse to the morgue on the same day.

"I've sent one officer to get the names of the morgue staff members responsible for overseeing corpses from April 5 to April 10, as the hand was received by the woman, Semiasih, on that last day," Rycko said.

He added that forensic doctors who performed the external and internal postmortem examinations on Hendrik's corpse would also be summoned for questioning.

Morgue chief Mardiono said staff members learned of Hendrik's missing hand only after it was returned from the postmortem examination at the forensic division of the School of Medicine at the University of Indonesia.

"There is a possibility that the hand was stolen from the morgue ... it is under such heavy renovation. All the corpses have been taken out of the freezer and laid out in open rooms which have no doors and windows. Anybody could enter the rooms from either side," Mardiono told reporters.

"At night, there are only three staff members overseeing the morgue, and many people are coming and going at all hours."

Police data shows an external examination on the corpse was conducted on April 7 by forensic expert Dr. Wibisana, while the internal examination was done by Dr. Siswandi Sutiyono on April 8. The hand was missing by then.

A morgue source said the fact that the hand was missing was not shown in the initial examination report.

"It's clearly the fault of the hospital's morgue," the source said. Meanwhile, morgue staff members have not elaborated any further.

Forensic expert Mun'im Idris said on Wednesday that morgue staff members could not easily wash their hands of this affair by attributing the slipup to the renovation.

"The morgue should be held accountable for every body that is admitted there," Mun'im said.

Setiabudi Police detectives received a report on Monday that Semiasih, 72, had received a package containing a severed hand, which was wearing a plastic glove. The package also contained a stone.

Rycko, however, said later that there was no plastic glove on the hand, but that the skin had lost its elasticity to such a degree that it looked like one.

Semiasih was quoted by the police as saying that the package was delivered to her house by Mardani, an employee of courier company CV Titipan Kilat, or more popularly known as Tiki.

Mardani had left the package at Semiasih's residence without obtaining the signature of the occupant for the delivery receipt, which is normally mandatory.

Police traced on Monday evening the address of the man who mailed the package.

The sender had written the name and return address as: "Suawandi, Jl. Pulausiri Timur, Blok AA No. 87, Bekasi Selatan."

Rycko said on Wednesday that the address turned out to be fake.

"There is a Jl. Pulausiri, but no Pulausiri Timur. And, there's no Block AA. The courier representative who took the order at the Bekasi branch said the man who handed her the package was heavy set, dark-skinned and had curly hair," Rycko said.

He said police were keeping a watch on Semiasih's house, as he suspected that one of her close relatives or someone in the house, might have ordered the hand, but that it was opened by mistake by Semiasih's servant Sarohtun.

He said he would also question Mardani for leaving a package at a residence without obtaining the occupant's signature. (ylt/06)