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Police Should Stop Wasting Energy and Resources

Indonesia: Police Should Stop Wasting Energy and Resources In Pursuing Fabricated Case Against a Religious Minority Leader

Gen. Timur Pradopo
Chief of the Indonesian National Police
Jl. Trunojoyo No. 3
Kebayoran Baru, Jakarta Selatan 12110
INDONESIA

Dear Mr. Pradopo,

The Asian Human Rights Commission (AHRC) is writing to you in relation to the fabricated criminal case against the leader of the Batak Protestant Church (HKBP) Filadelfia, Rev. Palti Panjaitan in Bekasi, West Java. Earlier, in March 2013, we wrote to you demanding that the criminal proceeding against Rev. Palti Panjaitan be halted. We are concerned to learn that, despite the fact that the case was fabricated and is lacking evidence, the District Police of Bekasi has pushed for a trial to take place.

According to the information we received from Rev. Palti Panjaitan's legal team, the prosecutor in-charge for this case has refused to hold a prosecution against the Reverend using Article 352 and 335 (1) of the Penal Code due to lack of evidence. Responding to such refusal, the police later used the legal mechanism for minor offences (tindak pidana ringan) which does not require the involvement of the public prosecutor for a trial to take place. The hearing under such mechanism was conducted at Bekasi District Court on 26 July 2013, led by Justice I Wayan Kasiwada. However in the hearing which was not attended by the Reverend, the judge decided not to continue the case and returned it to the police to determine the fate of the case.

Mr. Pradopo,

Despite the refusal of the prosecutor to follow up the case as well as the reluctance from the court to continue the legal proceeding, neither Rev. Panjaitan nor his legal team has received any warrant from Bekasi District Police regarding the termination of investigation against the Reverend as of today. This has put Rev. Panjaitan in an uncertain situation, as with the absence of the warrant the police may continue the criminal proceedings against him at anytime. With no evidence to support the case against Rev. Panjaitan, we are questioning the legal and moral reasoning of your officers at Bekasi District Police in being so persistent in this case.

As in our previous letter to you earlier this year, we wish to emphasise that Rev. Palti Panjaitan is more a victim than a perpetrator of a crime. As one of the leaders of HKBP Filadelfia, the Reverend has been subjected to intimidation and physical attacks from the intolerant residents of Jejalen Jaya Village who refused the establishment of a church in their area. Rev. Panjaitan has even received death threats from one of the intolerant residents, Abdul Aziz, which he has reported to the police. However, no investigation has been conducted by the police following the Reverend's complaint.

Instead of taking measures against the Reverend's complaint, the police responded rather promptly to a fake complaint submitted by Abdul Aziz who claimed that he had been attacked by Rev. Panjaitan on 24 December 2012. The Reverend was named as a suspect in March 2013. What actually happened on that day was that a group of intolerant residents threw rotten eggs, animal faeces, stones and urine at Rev. Panjaitan and the congregation of HKBP Filadelfia. In contradiction of what he is accused of, the Reverend did not assault anybody on that day but merely blocked an attack – using only bare hands – directed at him by Abdul Aziz.

We are aware that your officers at Bekasi District Police may be under the pressure of intolerant groups to pursue the criminal case against Rev. Palti Panjaitan. Challenging it may be to stand up for justice and rule of law. We would like to see the Indonesian National Police as an institution which does not bow to any party but rather the law. We therefore are calling on you and your officers to treat the case against Rev. Palti Panjaitan in an objective manner. In accordance with the law, we are calling you to issue a warrant on termination of investigation against the Reverend. Instead of using so much resources and energy on fabricated case against him, we urge you to order your officers at Bekasi District Police to investigate the intimidation and discrimination against the congregation of HKBP Filadelfia and to bring those responsible to justice.

We look forward for your effective and adequate intervention on this matter. Thank you.

Yours sincerely,

Bijo Francis
Executive Director
Asian Human Rights Commission, Hong Kong

# # #

About AHRC: The Asian Human Rights Commission is a regional non-governmental organisation that monitors human rights in Asia, documents violations and advocates for justice and institutional reform to ensure the protection and promotion of these rights. The Hong Kong-based group was founded in 1984.

ENDS

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