JAKARTA – The trial of a former Indonesian police general accused of orchestrating the murder of his bodyguard started at a Jakarta court on Monday (Oct 17), in a case that has put a spotlight on alleged impunity and corruption in the country’s police force.
The case against Ferdy Sambo, an ex-inspector general and head of internal affairs at the national police, has gripped the public in a country where surveys show distrust of the police remains high.
Police had initially said the bodyguard, 27-year-old brigadier Nopryansyah Yosua Hutabarat, was killed in a shootout with another officer at Sambo’s Jakarta residence on July 8.
But claims by Hutabarat’s family that there were signs of torture on the bodyguard’s body led to a second autopsy, which saw the police version of events unravel.
Sambo, who was dishonourably discharged in August, has been charged with premeditated murder, an offence that can carry the death penalty, and obstruction of justice.
In court on Monday, a prosecutor alleged Sambo had ordered one of his officers to shoot Hutabarat, before putting a final bullet in the back of his head and firing his gun into the wall to create the appearance of a shootout.
Prosecutors said the motive was a belief the bodyguard had sexually assaulted Sambo’s wife.
Sambo’s lawyer declined to say how his client would plead but in a news conference last week said Sambo had ordered that Hutabarat be assaulted, not shot.
In total, five people, including Sambo, his wife, two police officers and a driver, are facing charges of premeditated murder in relation to Hutabarat’s death.
A lawyer for Sambo’s wife declined to comment on her plea.
Ahead of the trial, police chief Listyo Sigit Prabowo had said there had been attempts to destroy evidence in the case.
In a statement on Aug 24, Prabowo said 97 officers were being investigated, with 35 accused of ethical violations.
The police force, which ranked as the least trusted of Indonesia’s law enforcement bodies in a recent survey by pollster Indikator, is also facing pressure over its role in a deadly soccer stampede earlier this month that killed more than 130 people.
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