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Indonesian troops jailed for killing prison inmates

Relatives and rights groups say sentences too light

Indonesian troops jailed for killing prison inmates

Relatives and friends of the victims stage a protest in Jakarta

Ryan Dagur, Jakarta

September 6, 2013

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An Indonesian military court on Thursday handed jail terms to eight of 12 special forces troops who executed four inmates during a prison raid earlier this year near Yogyakarta in Java.

The soldiers from the elite Kopassus unit stormed Cebongan prison on March 23 and killed the prisoners who had been detained after being accused of murdering the soldiers’ superior officer during a nightclub brawl. Several prison guards who tried to stop them were injured.   

Second Sgt Ucok Tigor Simbolon, who pulled the trigger, was handed an 11-year term. Two other ring leaders, Sugeng Sumaryanto and First Corporal Kodik, who stood next to the shooter, were sentenced to eight and six years respectively by the three-judge panel.

The others, who were tried separately, were handed terms of 21 months for their roles in the raid. Four other soldiers who took part still await sentencing.

The soldiers’ actions “cost the lives of four people, caused grief to the victims' families and traumatized many people," chief judge Lieutenant Colonel Joko Sasmito told the court.

Families of the victims say the punishments were not harsh enough

“I am not satisfied with the court decision,” said Viktor Mamahit, the brother of Juan Mambait, one of the victims.

“The family knew from the beginning the sentence would be light.”

Rights activists, who had called for the soldiers to be tried in a civilian court, also expressed disappointment with the sentences

Haris Azhar, coordinator of the Commission for the Disappeared and Victims of Violence (KontraS), said the punishment could have been more severe.

If military prosecutors had taken into account the planning of the raid and the intimidation involved against police and prison officials prior to the killing of the prisoners then justice might better have been served he said.

“Sad to say, this was neglected,” Azhar said.

The government says, however, that justice has been done.

“The fact that the judges have handed sentences of over five years, even 10 years to the main perpetrators, shows that they worked hard to fulfill the people’s demand for justice,” Deputy Justice and Human Rights Minister Denny Indrayana told reporters on Friday.

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