Residents demand justice over police misconduct

Posted on: 05/06/2011

Two days after an attack on a police station, allegedly triggered by the shooting of a resident of Bontomarannu village, Bantaeng regency, people were reportedly still gathering in protest. Conditions began returning to normal on Saturday after police and residents met with hopes of mediation. “During the meeting, we promised not to mobilize the crowd again on condition that the police detain and sanction the officers who fired [their weapons],” said resident Junad. He did not rule out potential violence if police failed to meet their demands. Junad is the brother of Talla, who was found dead on Thursday following the police raid at a gambling arena. According to Sr. Comr. Chevy Ahmad Sopari, the spokesman for the South Sulawesi Police, a police team pursuing suspects over a theft ended up finding around 40 people gambling. He said the police ordered the people to stay where they were, but several ignored the instruction, which led to police firing shots. Apparently a bullet hit Talla, 44, killing him, while three others were wounded. The incident triggered rioting, with the Ulu Ereng Police station becoming the immediate focus of the wrath of thousands of residents from Bonmarannu and two neighboring villages. Conditions returned to normal on Saturday after several police officers visited the site of the incident and met with residents. An additional deployment of police personnel was called in from Makassar to help secure the situation. Those injured in the police raid included Umar, a resident from a neighboring village. Provocative rumors had spread that Umar had been killed. Jeneponto Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Ruslan Aspan confirmed that only one person had perished. “Only one died. Others were injured and are now undergoing treatment at the hospital,” he said. According to Junad, the false news about Umar’s death had prompted fellow residents from neighboring villages to join the protest. Adj Sn. Comr. Muhammad Siswa, police officer in charge of information, said that the police were investigating seven officers — five from the Kelara Police and two from the Jeneponto Police. The seven were reported to have carried guns during the raid and were believed to be responsible for firing the shots. “We will await the results of the autopsy,” he said when asked about the type of bullet that killed the victim. Police and civilians have frequently clashed in the area, and elsewhere, sometimes resulting in fatalities. In January, a violent protest erupted over a police plan to confiscate a plot of land claimed by a university lecturer, Sofyan, who was shot and died two weeks later. One person was killed in a clash between residents and police personnel in Moenamani village, Nabire, Papua, in April, while two residents and three police members were injured. Two people were allegedly shot and killed by police in Lampung in the same month, under bizarre circumstances, in the second bloody clash between authorities and civilians within a single week. Source the Jakarta post edition June 5, 2011


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