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Police officer’s mysterious death in North Kalimantan raises alarm over broader trend in Indonesian Police Force

On September 22nd, a harrowing event unfolded as a police officer, serving as an aide to the North Kalimantan Regional Police Chief, was found lifeless in a residence at 13:10 local time, surrounded by a pool of blood. A HS-9 handgun lay nearby.

Investigations are underway, raising concerns about a pattern of such incidents within the Indonesian police force.

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INDONESIA: In a tragic incident, Brigadier Setyo Herlambang, a police officer and aide to the North Kalimantan Regional Police Chief (Kapolda Kaltara), was discovered dead in a pool of blood inside a residence on Friday (22 Sep), at approximately 13:10 local time.

According to the Chief of Public Relations of the North Kalimantan Police (Polda Kaltara), Police Commissioner Budi Rachmat, a handgun of the HS-9 type was found beside the deceased officer.

“He was found covered in blood, and next to him was an office inventory firearm of type HS-9 with serial number HS178837,” Budi stated, as reported by Kompas.com on Saturday (23 Sep).

Brigadier Setyo Herlambang, originally from Semarang, Central Java, served as a Non-Commissioned Officer (Bintara) in Unit 3 Sub-Detachment 1 of the Gegana Detachment of the Mobile Brigade Police Unit of North Kalimantan.

In addition to his regular duties, he also served as an aide for the security and protection of the North Kalimantan Regional Police Chief, Inspector General of Police Daniel Adityajaya. “Yes, he was assigned as an aide in Polda Kaltara,” Budi confirmed.

To clarify the cause of death, Brigadier Setyo Herlambang’s body was transported to Tarakan City Hospital for an autopsy.

Meanwhile, teams from the Directorate of Criminal Investigation (Ditreskrimum) and the Professional and Security Affairs Division (Bidpropam) of North Kalimantan Police have completed the crime scene investigation.

“The initial examination by the Police Health and Medical Team (Dokkes) of North Kalimantan revealed that the victim had no pulse,” Budi explained.

The preliminary suspicion is that the officer’s death was the result of negligence while cleaning the HS-9 firearm. “The preliminary assumption is that the victim was cleaning the firearm, which resulted in an accident,” he stated.

Budi added that the family of the victim requested that the autopsy be conducted in Semarang. Therefore, only an external examination and post-mortem examination were performed on Brigadier Setyo at Tarakan Hospital.

“The plan is to bury the body in his hometown of Semarang,” he continued.

The body was transported from Tarakan, North Kalimantan, to Surabaya, East Java, and then continued its journey by land to Semarang, arriving on Saturday (23 Sep) around 12:30 local time.

The autopsy took place at the Forensic Medical Installation (Dokpol) of the Semarang Bhayangkara Hospital.

According to Kompas.com on Saturday (23 Sep), Stefanus Satake Bayu Setianto, Chief of Public Relations for the Central Java Police, stated that the autopsy results revealed that the victim had suffered severe bleeding.

The North Kalimantan Regional Police Chief visited his aide’s autopsy at Bhayangkara Hospital in Semarang on Saturday (23 Sep). (Photo: KOMPAS.com)

“The autopsy results showed that he died from a gunshot wound to the left side of the chest that penetrated the heart and lungs, causing severe bleeding,” Stefanus said.

The autopsy was conducted from 13:00 to 15:00 local time and was attended by family members and the North Kalimantan Regional Police Chief.

Police Chief orders thorough investigation

The incident of the aide’s death has also brought deep sorrow to North Kalimantan Regional Police Chief Inspector General Pol Daniel Adityajaya.

He confirmed that the victim had been a member of the North Kalimantan Regional Police for approximately four months and had served as his aide.

Currently, the police are conducting a thorough investigation to uncover the cause of his death.

National Police Chief General Listyo Sigit Prabowo has instructed Inspector General Daniel Aditya Jaya, the North Kalimantan Regional Police Chief, to conduct a careful and thorough investigation.

General Listyo also emphasized the use of Scientific Crime Investigation (CSI) in the investigation process.

“I have instructed the North Kalimantan Regional Police Chief to investigate this incident thoroughly and utilize our CSI capabilities so that the final results can be scientifically justified,” said General Listyo on Sunday (24 Sep), at Monas, Central Jakarta.

General Listyo has further directed the National Police Criminal Investigation Agency (Bareskrim Puslabfor) to deploy forensic doctors to ensure that the investigation results can be transparently communicated to the victim’s family.

“I believe the National Police is always transparent,” General Listyo emphasized. He also expressed the need for patience in revealing the circumstances of Brigadier Setyo’s death, stating that the investigation was still ongoing and that conclusions would be drawn after all aspects were considered.

Multiple mysterious officer deaths under scrutiny

In response to the incident, the Indonesia Police Watch (IPW) has called for the establishment of a special team to investigate the case.

Sugeng Teguh Santoso, Chairman of IPW, said, “The National Police Chief must form a Special Team to investigate this. The aide died at the Regional Police Chief’s official residence. We don’t want a situation like the shooting of Brigadier Yosua to happen again, which tarnished the image of the National Police.”

Sugeng urged an immediate examination to clarify the background of Briptu Herlambang’s death, who was a member of the Brimob unit.

“The disclosure of the death of the Regional Police Chief’s aide is crucial to be transparent and prevent public speculation,” Teguh stated.

IPW also urged the National Police to conduct a comprehensive evaluation of several cases involving the mysterious deaths of their officers since the beginning of 2023.

IPW has recorded at least four such cases.

According to Sugeng, after the case of Brigadier Yosua, who was proven to have been shot by his superior, Ferdy Sambo, the public was also shocked by the death of Chief Police Brigadier (Bripka) AS, a member of the Samosir Resort Police, on 23 January 2023, allegedly due to cyanide poisoning.

Three months later, on 25 March 2023, there was the case of Brigadier Polisi Satu (Briptu) RF, Personal Staff of the Gorontalo Regional Police Chief, who was found dead with a gunshot wound inside a parked official vehicle on Gorontalo Ring Road. RF was suspected to have committed suicide as gunpowder residue was found on his right hand.

Six days later, on 31 March 2023, Brigadier Polisi Kepala (Bripka) DK, a member of the Directorate of Samapta (Ditsamapta) of the Banten Regional Police, was found dead with gunshot wounds in his home in Griya Baladika Asri, Serang City, Banten.

On 23 July 2023, Brigadier Polisi Dua (Bripda) Ignatius Dwi Frisco Sirage, a member of Detachment 88 Anti-Terrorism Special Unit (Densus 88), died at the Polri Cikeas Police Complex in Gunung Putri, Bogor Regency, allegedly killed by his colleagues, Brigadier Polisi Dua (Bripda) IMS and Brigadier Polisi Kepala (Bripka) IG.

From this series of cases, IPW called upon the National Police to investigate and research the psychological issues affecting their personnel. IPW also urged the National Police Chief to examine the leadership practices aimed at guiding subordinates.

“The disclosure of the Regional Police Chief’s aide’s death is crucial to be transparent and prevent public speculation,” Sugeng emphasized.

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