Mon, 06 Mar 2000

STPDN freshman tortured to death

BANDUNG (JP): A freshman of the Institute of State Administration (STPDN) died on Friday after being tortured, but the police released the suspects after 1,000 students from the school thronged the police station to demand their release on Saturday.

Sumedang Police chief Lt. Col. Richardo Hutauruk told The Jakarta Post that seven suspects were freed after an official request from the institute was sent following the student protest.

"The suspects were released after assurances from the institute that they would be ready for questioning at any time," Richardo said.

District heads are often STPDN graduates.

During the protest, the students said it was the institute's doctor who was responsible for the death of Eri Rachman, a 21- year-old freshman. They said the doctor had failed to treat the victim properly.

The suspects have reportedly admitted to hitting and kicking the victim, said Richardo. "We also have a postmortem examination report, so what we just need are more witnesses."

One witness, who was a friend of Eri, said the incident began after Eri arrived late at the institute in Jatinangor from his home in Kiaracondong, Bandung, due to traffic congestion on Feb. 4.

Jatinangor, some 10 kilometers east of Bandung, is under the jurisdiction of the Sumedang Police.

The witness, who asked for anonymity, said one of the senior students then told Eri to report to him in the dormitory.

Afraid, Eri did not show up until evening, at which the seniors reportedly began picking on him and "gave him a lesson".

Dr. Arifah Nur Istiqomah, head of the STPDN campus clinic, confirmed that Eri was taken to the clinic on Feb. 4 by his colleagues before being taken to Sumedang Hospital.

A clinic staffer, identified as Gunawan, took Eri to the hospital.

"Gunawan said he saw bruises on Eri's chest and buttocks," Arifah said, adding that Eri's friends said Eri had been "tortured" by seniors for arriving 15-minutes late at the institute.

After two days without improvement, Eri was taken to Bandung's Al-Islam Hospital, where he was operated on twice before he died on Friday. (25/sur)