Aloysius Giay, the head of the health service desk in Indonesia's Papua province, is being investigated for allegedly raping a schoolgirl. (Photo courtesy of Papua.go.id)
A prominent Catholic doctor in Indonesia has found himself at the center of a sex-crime storm after being accused of raping an 18-year-old schoolgirl.
Human rights groups have called on police not to allow the fact that the suspect is a high-ranking health official in Papua province to affect the way in which they carry out their investigation.
"We ask the police to work professionally and independently and ensure justice is served," said a joint statement signed by 32 rights groups and 42 individuals.
Aloysius Giay, head of the health service desk in Papua, is being investigated by South Jakarta police for allegedly raping a girl in a Jakarta hotel room last month.
The alleged victim's mother told UCA News that the family had a close relationship with Giay, so her daughter was not suspicious when she was invited to meet him at a hotel for lunch on Jan. 28.
However, Giay then invited her to his hotel room, plied her with alcohol and raped her, the mother said on condition of anonymity. “We just hope we can get justice,” she said.
The case has become a hot topic on social media, especially among Papuans, because Giay is a renowned Catholic doctor.
Rights groups warned that “the case is purely a criminal one” and expressed hope that it will not be “politicized in the interests of certain political, ethnic or religious groups.”
They also asked the Papuan authorities to suspend Giay.
A women’s rights activist in Papua who asked for anonymity told UCA News that she had received reports of Giay sexually assaulting other victims.
“We are looking into the claims. However, we hope this case is settled first so that other victims can have the courage to come forward,” she said.
“They are currently afraid because he is an influential person.”
Peter Ell, the victim's lawyer, said that since the rape accusation was reported, the victim's family have received several threatening phone calls. He said he was trying to ensure protection for the alleged victim and her family.
Stefanus Roy Rening, Giay's lawyer, said his client was questioned by police on Feb. 10. "He is still being examined as a witness, not as a suspect," he told UCA News.
He said the accusations against Giay were an attempt to destroy him because he is Papuan.
“Besides being a respected official, he is also a religious and traditional leader. This accusation has destroyed his reputation,” Rening said, adding Giay was considering lodging defamation suits against various parties.