Yogyakarta. An unidentified group of about 15 gunmen barged into Cebongan prison in Sleman early on Saturday morning, threatened the wardens and then shot dead four detainees awaiting trial over the death of a soldier, police said.
Sleman police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Hery Sutrisman told Jakarta Globe on Saturday that the assailants, wearing face masks and vests, were armed with assault rifles, AK-47s and FN Five-seven pistols.
“Twelve witnesses that we’ve questioned said that the perpetrators knocked on the door,” Hery said. “They told [the prison warden] that they were members of the Yogyakarta police and brought a letter to move the inmates out, who they later executed.”
Edi Prasetyo, the prison warden who answered the door, told police he was suspicious because the assailants came at 1:15 a.m — an unusual time to move the inmates. He said he refused to open the gate and told them he needed to ask permission from the chief warden.
A source told Agence France-Presse that the gunmen then threatened to knock down the prison door with grenades.
“Those people threatened him [the warden] so he opened the door,” Hery told Jakarta Globe. “They got in and asked him to show the cell holding the four [detainees]. Having no option, the prison warden showed the cell where the four prisoners were temporarily detained. They executed the inmates by firing at them in the cell.”
Two prison wardens, Widiatmoko and Nugroho Putro, were hospitalized for injuries after the gunmen attacked them as well.
The four dead suspects — Hendrik Angel Sahetapi, 31; Yohanes Juan, 38; Gameliel Yermianto Rohi Riwu, 29; and Adrianus Candra Galaja, 33 — had been arrested by Sleman police on Tuesday after allegedly stabbing to death Army’s Special Forces (Kopassus) member First Sgt. Heru Santosa at Cafe Hugos, Sleman, when the soldier tried to break up a fight.
“The four bodies have been taken to hospital for autopsy,” Yogyakarta police spokeswoman Adj. Comr. Anny Pudjiastuti told AFP.
The Justice and Human Rights Ministry’s director of prison security and order, Wibowo Joko, said that the attack may be a revenge for the killing of Heru.
“Some days ago, there was a fight in Cafe Hugos involving four people,” Wibowo said. “One of them [the suspects] is a [former] police officer [Yohanes], and a member of Kopassus tried to mediate the conflict but instead died after being stabbed.”
Sleman police chief Hery said that because the case is considered sensitive, Sleman police handed it — but not the suspects — over to the Yogyakarta police. Sleman police temporarily detained the suspects at the Cebongan Correctional Center.
The National Police and Military said they have started an investigation into the Saturday morning attack. Police have questioned 12 witnesses, including prison warden Margo Utomo, who was chief of duty at the a time of the attack, and a warden named Tri Widodo.
Police told Jakarta Globe that they were unable to obtain a CCTV recording of the incident because the perpetrators destroyed the camera and withdrew the cassette before killing the detainees.
Deputy Justice and Human Rights Minister Denny Indrayana urged all parties involved to avoid further attacks and let the police and military handle the investigation.
“I ask all sides to hold yourself,” Denny said in a text message to Jakarta Globe. “Remember, this is a law-based country. All should comply with the regulations.”
Denny also said that he would coordinate closely with the chiefs of the ,ilitary, Army and National Police to prevent the conflict from escalating.
“No matter the reason [behind the shooting], the perpetrators should be held responsible and go through legal procedures,” Denny said.
Aziz Syamsuddin, a member of the House of Representatives Commission III, which oversees legal affairs, demanded law enforcers to find who was responsible for the attack.
“Legal enforcers should investigate the death of the four inmates who were shot inside the prison,” Aziz said. “Arrest the perpetrators soon and reveal the motive.”
He also urged the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights directorate general of correctional facilities to pay attention to prison security throughout Indonesia to prevent such incidents in the future.
“This should be a lesson,” Aziz said. “In the future, the directorate general of correctional facilities of the Justice and Human Rights Ministry should pay attention to the security, including the wardens and their welfare.”
With additional reporting from Agence France-Presse
[Updated 1:45 p.m., Saturday, March 23]