On Monday, one of the most senior police officials in Indonesia was sentenced to death for the murder of his bodyguard.
Ferdy Sambo, a two-star general and former chief of internal affairs for the national police, was designated a suspect when his bodyguard was discovered dead at his house in July and authorities were first suspected of covering up the crime.
Sambo was accused of ordering a subordinate to shoot Brigadier Nofriansyah Yosua Hutabarat, age 27, and then shooting the injured victim himself.
He was arrested in August and fired from the force in September, prior to a months-long trial that captured national attention and shed light on a pervasive perception of police impunity in the archipelago.
“(The court is) declaring the defendant Ferdy Sambo to be convincingly and legally guilty of committing the crime of premeditated murder… and sentencing the defendant to death,” presiding judge Wahyu Iman Santoso told the court.
Sambo has one week to file an appeal.
As the judge addressed Sambo, Hutabarat’s mother sat in the Jakarta court carrying a photograph of her son while Sambo attended in person.
The judgement was met with gasps from a population that had not anticipated the maximum penalty. As Sambo was escorted out of the courthouse while he remained in prison, he was rushed by the media.
When the news of Hutabarat’s murder broke, authorities said that another member of Sambo’s security detail had killed him after catching him sexually abusing Sambo’s wife.
But weeks later, Sambo and his wife were arrested.
When Hutabarat was murdered, the security cameras were not operational, according to the police. The court said that a subordinate of Sambo erased CCTV footage.
Monday also saw the sentencing of Sambo’s wife, Putri Candrawathi, to 20 years in jail, far longer than the eight-year penalty that prosecutors had sought.
According to activists, the court’s decision to impose the maximum punishment was undoubtedly influenced by Sambo’s job as a law enforcer.
“This verdict means the law enforcers believed Ferdy Sambo was the mastermind behind this murder,” Ardi Manto Saputra, deputy director of human rights group Imparsial, told the media.
“He has tainted the reputation of law enforcement and the government’s dignity.”»Former Indonesian police general accused in a murder case«