Thursday, April 19, 2012

We are the police, if you belittle us we will arrest you

Indonesia's National Police have washed their hands of the controversial arrest on Tuesday of 10 employees of a newspaper in Sumedang, West Java, saying any punishment against the district police chief must come from the provincial police.

Brig. Gen. Muhammad Taufik, a National Police spokesman, acknowledged on Wednesday that the order by Sumedang Police Chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Eka Bakti Satria to arrest the Sumedang Ekspres staff was “not the right move,” but added that the West Java Police would be handling the fallout.

“It was not the right move because it wasn’t in line with an agreement signed in February between the National Police chief and the Press Council [on legal protection for journalists],” he  said. “But whether there are any sanctions, disciplinary action or ethics reviews [against Eka], I don’t know. We’ve left the case up to the West Java Police as the party with the authority to decide on any punishment.”

The controversy centers on the arrest of the newspaper employees during a parade to mark the 343rd anniversary of the founding of Sumedang on Tuesday.

The Ekspres, which took part in the parade, had decked out its car with poster-sized copies of some of its previous headlines, one of which read “Oknum Polisi Ngamuk” (“Rogue Police Officer Goes Berserk”). The story was from the paper’s April 4 edition, covering a story on police violence.

The car followed the parade route through the main town square, passing in front of a podium where Eka was seated alongside other top district officials.

Eka then ordered his men to stop the car and arrest the crew.