On Monday, one of Indonesia’s top police officers was sentenced to death for killing his bodyguard.
Ferdi Samba, a two-star general and former national police chief of internal affairs, was named as a suspect after his bodyguard was found dead in Samba’s home in July, in a killing that police initially covered up.
Samba was accused of ordering a subordinate to shoot 27-year-old Brigadier Nofriansiah Yosua Hutabarat and then firing the bullet himself into the wounded victim.
He was arrested in August and dismissed from the police force in September ahead of a month-long trial that grabbed national headlines and shed light on a widespread sense of police impunity in the archipelago nation.
“(The court) finds the accused Ferdi Samba conclusively and legally guilty of the crime of premeditated murder… and sentences the defendant to death,” the presiding judge of the Waju court, Iman Santosa, told the court.
Samba has a week to appeal the verdict.
Hutobarat’s mother sat in a Jakarta court with a picture of him as the judge addressed Sambo, who was present in person.
During the reading of the verdict, there were screams from the surprised audience, which did not expect the maximum punishment. When Samba was led out of the courtroom, still in custody, he was mobbed by the media.
When news of Khutabarat’s death emerged, police initially said he was killed by another security officer after he was caught sexually abusing Samba’s wife.
But Samba and his wife were arrested a few weeks later.
Police did not reveal the killing for several days and said surveillance cameras were not working when Khutabarat was killed. The judge said CCTV footage was deleted by Sambo’s subordinates.
Samba’s wife, Putri Kandravati, was also sentenced Monday to 20 years in prison, far more than the eight-year term prosecutors had sought.
Activists said Sambo’s role as a law enforcement officer likely motivated the court to impose the maximum sentence.
“This verdict means that law enforcement agencies believe that Ferdi Samba ordered this murder,” Ardi Manta Saputra, deputy director of the human rights group Imparsial, told AFP.
“He tarnished the reputation of law enforcement and the dignity of the government.”