JAKARTA (The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network): The Bukit Barisan Military Command (Kodam) 1 has detained five Army personnel after they were named as suspects in the case involving the illegal and fatal caging of people at the residence of the inactive regent of Langkat, North Sumatra.
A total of 10 Army personnel have been named suspects in the case.
“The dossiers of the five detained personnel have been handed over to the Medan military prosecutors,” Bukit Barisan Kodam 1 spokesperson Col Donald Erikson Silitonga said on Tuesday (May 24).
Inactive Langkat regent Terbit Rencana Perangin-Angin, a graft suspect, was charged last month with a variety of criminal violations, including human trafficking resulting in serious injury and death, torture murder, false imprisonment, group violence and other charges.
Several charges carry a maximum penalty of 15 years in prison. The North Sumatra Police previously named eight suspects for their alleged involvement as caretakers of the iron-barred cells that led to the deaths of at least three people.
The suspects included Terbit’s son Dewa, who was allegedly involved in torture that led to the death of Sarianto Ginting, one of the falsely imprisoned victims.
The cages were discovered in January, not long after the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) arrested then-regent Terbit for allegedly demanding kickbacks from private contractors in exchange for infrastructure projects.
The KPK and the North Sumatra Police discovered two cages in Terbit’s house that held dozens of people believed to be trapped in forced labour on his oil palm plantation, and opened a separate investigation into the matter.
Police have also have questioned Terbit’s wife and younger brother Sribana Perangin-Angin, the Langkat Legislative Council Speaker.
The National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) alleged that Terbit had been keeping people in cages since 2010 under the pretext that he was running a drug rehabilitation centre.
The commission found that Terbit was employing slavery-like practices that left his victims without any power or control.
Komnas HAM found at least 57 people incarcerated in the two cells at the time of their discovery. Most were drug users, male and poor.