Tue, 09 Mar 1999

UKI student tried for kidnapping police officer

JAKARTA (JP): An Indonesian Christian University (UKI) student was indicted at the South Jakarta District Court on Monday for kidnapping a police officer.

Prosecutor M. Purba claimed the defendant, identified as Edward Taurus Benyamin Karo-karo, along with fellow students, abducted Sgt. Maj. Suratman as the victim was taking pictures of a student demonstration on Jl. Gatot Subroto on Nov. 27 last year.

"The defendant and his three fellow students grabbed the victim and pushed him into a taxi," Purba said. Two of the other three students were identified as Rudy Pahala Simatupang and Alex Situmeang. Rudy has been cleared in the case while the other two students are still at large.

He said the defendant and his friends then took the victim to the UKI campus in Cawang, East Jakarta at about 8 p.m.

Suratman was interrogated by the defendant at the university's security post, he said.

After tying the victim's hands and blindfolding him, the defendant then took Suratman to the Nusantara Economic Institute on Jl. D.I. Panjaitan in East Jakarta, he said.

Purba said the South Jakarta Police intelligence officer was later dumped on a street in the Cawang area.

The defendant was charged under Article 328 and Article 333 (1) of the Criminal Code, which carry a maximum punishment of 12 years in jail and eight years in jail respectively.

At least 100 students grouped in the City Forum attended the trial. They arrived at the courthouse at 10 a.m. carrying banners and posters and demanding the release of their friend.

Edward's lawyer, Pablo Christalo from the Student Movement Lawyer Team, denied that his client kidnapped the officer, saying that the defendant actually saved Suratman from being mobbed by the demonstrators.

"The defendant cannot accept the charges because there was no kidnapping. Edward did not take Suratman into a locked room," Pablo said.

Presiding Judge Samsoedin A.B. adjourned the trial until next week, at which time Pablo will make his statement.

Edward and Rudi were arrested on Dec. 8 at their respective houses in Ciganjur, South Jakarta and in Cawang, East Jakarta.

The two students at UKI's law school then filed wrongful arrest lawsuits against the city police at the South Jakarta District Court.

In their lawsuits, the two students sought compensation amounting to Rp 1.5 million (US$166) for material losses and Rp 1 billion for other losses.

The court released Rudi on Jan. 7, but rejected Edward's lawsuit on Jan. 23. (jun)