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Indonesian police under fire over detainee's death

Family of George Rumbino say he was beaten and shot while in police custody

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Indonesian police under fire over detainee's death

Indonesian anti-terror police take part in an exercise in Denpasar, Bali, in this file photo. Police in West Papua have been accused of shooting and beating a detainee to death in a police jail in Sorong City on Aug. 26. (Photo: AFP)

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Police in Indonesia’s West Papua have been accused of torturing and shooting a young man to death in a cell, several hours after his family turned him in to face murder charges.

George Rumbino, 21, was detained in Sorong police jail on Aug. 26 but was declared dead the next day.

Edo Kondologit, a relative, said the news had left the whole family devastated, especially Rumbino’s mother who surrendered her son to the police.

“The family wants to know why [our brother] was subjected to such brutality that led to his death,” Kondologit told UCA News on Aug 31.
He said his brother-in-law appeared to have been beaten and tortured in the jail and then shot in the leg.

“There were gunshot wounds and scars to his body,” said Kondologit, who is also a pop singer and politician from Papua.

Police have denied the family’s accusations.

Sorong City police chief Ary Nyoto Setiawan told reporters that Rumbino did not surrender but was picked up and arrested by officers.

He said the young man was drunk when he raped and killed a neighbor on Aug. 26.

Setiawan said police arrested him and while on the way to the police station he tried to escape and grabbed a gun from a police officer.

“An officer then shot him in the leg and he was taken to hospital. After arriving at the jail, he was beaten by another detainee,” Setiawan said.

Kondologit said he has reported the case to West Papuan regional police chief Rudolf Alberth Rodja and national police chief Idham Azis and called on them to investigate. “We want those involved prosecuted,” he said.

Amnesty International Indonesia also questioned the police’s version of events.

“The police must investigate totally, effectively and independently. The legal process must be transparent,” Usman Hamid, director of Amnesty International Indonesia, said in an Aug. 31 statement.

He said the victim's family has the right to know what really happened and that authorities should not let this case be yet another where security forces were allowed to commit rights abuses with impunity.

Police and military who commit crimes against civilians are rarely tried or face a proper trial, he said.

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