Former Indonesian senior police official sentenced to death in subordinate’s murder

Arie Firdaus
Former Indonesian senior police official sentenced to death in subordinate’s murder Ferdy Sambo, former head the Indonesia’s national police internal affairs, gestures as he arrives at the South Jakarta court where he was sentenced to death, Feb. 13, 2023.
Aditya Aji/AFP

Spectators in a Jakarta court cheered as a sacked senior police official was sentenced to death on Monday for murdering his subordinate in a case that highlighted excesses by the national force.

Prosecutors had sought a lighter sentence of life in prison for former police Gen. Ferdy Sambo, but the South Jakarta district court panel of judges said he had tarnished the reputation of the force and that there were no mitigating factors in his favor.

Sambo’s wife, who was charged as an accomplice in the murder of Brigadier Nopriansyah Yosua Hutabarat on July 8, was sentenced to 20 years.

“The defendant had thought about how to carry out the murder, chosen the location and tools, and enlisted other people to help,” presiding Judge Wahyu Iman Santoso said.

“There are no excuses or justifications that can mitigate the crime committed by the defendant,” he said.

The court also found Sambo guilty of attempting to destroy evidence by ordering his aides to delete security camera footage.

Sambo, who wore a long-sleeved white shirt and sported a mullet haircut, sat passively as the judge announced the verdict. He had been discharged from the police force in September after he was named a suspect in the case.

Judges on a separate bench ruled Sambo’s wife, Putri Candrawathi, knew about her husband’s plan to kill Yosua after prosecutors sought an eight-year sentence for Putri.

Police initially said another subordinate killed Yosua in a shootout after he caught him sexually assaulting Putri.

Lawyers for the couple said they were considering appeals.

Yosua’s relatives and advocates had challenged the assault allegation by claiming the killing was premeditated.

Putri Candrawathi, wife of Ferdy Sambo, attends her sentencing at the South Jakarta court, Feb. 13, 2023. [Aditya Aji/AFP]

Rosti Simanjuntak, Yosua’s mother, wept after hearing Sambo’s verdict and said she was satisfied. 

“God showed his miracle today,” said Rosti, who held her deceased son’s photograph on her lap throughout the session.

‘Independent and unencumbered’

Mohammad Mahfud MD, coordinating minister for political, legal and security affairs, welcomed the ruling and said justice had been served.

“The judges were good, independent and unencumbered,” Mahfud said on Twitter.

Following the murder, amid a public outcry, national Police Chief Listyo Sigit Prabowo set up a special team to investigate the case. The team exhumed Yosua’s body and worked with an independent forensics team to conduct an autopsy.

Sambo, 50, told the court that he was furious after his wife told him that she had been sexually assaulted by Yosua.

However, the judges said they found no evidence to back up Putri’s allegations.

The prosecution said Putri was present when Sambo discussed killing Yosua.

She cooperated with her husband instead of trying to stop Sambo from going ahead with the plan, the indictment said. 

The judge also found that Sambo had shot Yosua in the head with his own handgun while wearing black gloves, after several shots fired by subordinate Richard Eliezer failed to kill Yosua right away.

The couple’s trials were televised nationwide and transfixed Indonesians for months.

Verdicts for three alleged accomplices are expected this week.

This case came amid instances of alleged police misconduct that have eroded public trust in the institution and prompted calls for reform and better governance in the force.

Another police general, Teddy Minahasa, is on trial for allegedly trafficking 5 kg (11 lbs.) of crystal methamphetamine investigators had seized from suspected drug dealers last year as evidence. He could face the death penalty if found guilty. 

In an incident that drew global attention, three police officers could face up to five years in prison if found guilty of criminal negligence for “recklessly” firing tear gas that led to a stadium stampede which killed 135 people in October.

The incident at the Kanjuruhan stadium at the end of a league football match in the East Java city of Malang was one of the world’s worst sports disasters.



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