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Questions surround mystery death of North Kalimantan police officer as Indonesia Police Watch demands thorough investigation

Brigadier Setyo Herlambang’s mysterious death in North Kalimantan prompts calls for a thorough investigation amid doubts of accidental firearm mishandling.

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INDONESIA – The death of Brigadier Setyo Herlambang, an officer serving as an aide to the Chief of Police in the North Kalimantan Region (Kapolda Kaltara), Inspector General Daniel Adityajaya, has left Indonesia Police Watch (IPW) questioning the official explanation.

Authorities initially suggested that Brigadier Setyo died due to mishandling his own firearm, but IPW and other officials are calling for a more thorough and transparent investigation.

IPW Chairman, Sugeng Teguh Santoso, expressed doubts about the claim that Brigadier Setyo accidentally shot himself while cleaning his weapon.

Sugeng Teguh Santoso, the Chairman of Indonesia Police Watch (IPW). (Photo: KOMPAS.com)

“As a member of the Mobile Brigade Corps (Brimob), Setyo was undoubtedly trained in the use and maintenance of firearms. Moreover, they are equipped with the knowledge of inspecting and caring for weapons,” Sugeng stated on Monday (25 Sep).

In discussing the standard procedures for firearm maintenance, Sugeng pointed out that magazines and bullets must be removed, the firing chamber should be checked to ensure it is empty, and the weapon’s barrel must be directed in a safe position.

Sugeng believes that the North Kalimantan Regional Police rushed to conclude negligence as the cause of Setyo’s death, especially after finding his HS-9 firearm beside him.

IPW is urging the case to be taken over by the Professional and Security Division (Propam) and the General Crimes Directorate (Ditipidum) of the National Criminal Investigation Agency (Badan Reserse Kriminal Polri).

This move is aimed at ensuring a more professional and accountable investigation while avoiding conflicts of interest, given Setyo’s role as an aide to Kapolda Kaltara.

Sugeng also emphasized the need for a comprehensive examination of the crime scene, including checking for any bullet-pierced fabric or injuries in areas other than Brigadier Setyo’s body.

“The crime scene must be examined, and the items inside it must be thoroughly investigated,” Sugeng added.

Sugeng raised suspicions that Setyo may have taken his own life, saying, “There is a strong suspicion that he became a victim of suicide.

IPW received information that the shot was directed directly at his left chest using the same firearm.”

Furthermore, IPW disagrees with the notion of negligence in Setyo’s case and calls for a thorough investigation into the reasons behind his alleged suicide.

“That’s why the investigation into why Brigadier Setyo took his own life needs to be examined. The background of this suicide must be studied. Why did he commit suicide?” Sugeng questioned.

Sugeng urged the Indonesian National Police (Polri) to learn from this case and pay attention to the stress levels and issues faced by police officers, with the aim of preventing future suicides.

He concluded, “This incident is a blow to the Bhayangkara Corps to take their reforms more seriously, as it is a loss for the Polri institution.”

Sugeng also proposed that Polri promptly establish a special team to investigate the reasons behind police officers taking their own lives, to prevent such incidents in the future.

Police officer’s mysterious death

Brigadier Setyo Herlambang was found dead in his official residence at Kapolda Kaltara’s house last Friday (22 Sep), with his firearm by his side.

Police initially cited negligence as the likely cause of his death.

“The preliminary suspicion is that the victim was cleaning his firearm, resulting in an accidental discharge,” said Police Commissioner (Kombes) Budi Rachmat, Head of Public Relations for North Kalimantan Regional Police, on Saturday (23 Sep).

Separately, Police Chief General Listyo Sigit Prabowo has instructed his subordinates to investigate Brigadir Setyo Herlambang’s death using scientific crime investigation (SCI) techniques, which involve multidisciplinary approaches to criminal investigations.

National Police Commission urges thorough, transparent probe into Setyo’s death

Similar sentiments were echoed by Poengky Indarti, Commissioner of the National Police Commission (Kompolnas), who called for a swift, professional, and transparent investigation.

Kompolnas also advocated for an evidence-based investigation to determine whether Setyo’s death was a result of self-inflicted harm or if there were other factors involved.

Poengky Indarti, the Commissioner of the National Police Commission (Kompolnas). (Photo: KOMPAS.com)

Furthermore, Kompolnas is waiting for the results of the internal investigation conducted by Polda Kaltara, which includes various departments such as Inspectorate, Professional and Security, Criminal Investigation, and Police Medicine.

Poengky emphasized the need for external oversight of the case, inviting the public and media to monitor the process closely to ensure transparency.

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