15 Satpol PP Officers Named Suspects Over Forced East Nusa Tenggara Airport Closure

By : Ezra Sihite & Farouk Arnaz | on 6:14 PM December 24, 2013
Category : News, Crime, Featured

DSCN2667-2 A Merpati Nusantara Airlines plane sits at an airport in Luwuk, Central Sulawesi. (JG Photo/Erwida Maulia)

Police on Tuesday said 15 public order agency (Satpol PP) officers in Ngada district, East Nusa Tenggara, have been named suspects in an investigation after carrying out an order from the district head to forcefully close a local airport on Saturday.

Turelelo Soa Airport was temporarily shut on Saturday morning after Marianus Sae, the district head, ordered for it to be closed after he was denied a ticket on an fully-booked Merpati Nusantara flight. Airport officials said they could do nothing to end the blockade because they were outnumbered by Satpol PP officers enforcing Marianus’s wishes.

“Fifteen [Satpol PP officers] have been named suspects for violating the law and trespassing on the runway,” East Nusa Tenggara Police chief Brig. Gen. I Ketut Untung Yoga Ana told Indonesian news portal vivanews.com.

He said it would need some time, though, before Marianus himself could be charged in the case.

“Our law specifies that questioning of district heads requires permission, a recommendation from the governor,” Untung said.

He added that Ngada Police were currently dealing with the case.

“[They] are investigating others first — those whose questioning doesn’t require a letter," Untung said. "They need time. They’re working in stages.”

Separately in Jakarta, National Police chief Gen. Sutarman said Marianus allegedly violated Indonesia’s Aviation Law.

“Shutting an airport violates Article 421 of the 2009 Law on Aviation,” he said. “Blockading an airport is punishable by three years in prison and Rp 1 billion [$82,000] in fines.”

Sutarman added that police decided to commence the investigation into the case even though no one had filed a report against Marianus.

He added that anyone involved in the closure might face legal charges.

“There are three [alleged] perpetrators: those who did it, those who helped and those who ordered it,” Sutarman said. “The punishment will be the same. We will question [all of them].”

Aside from the Satpol PP officers, police said they have questioned officials from Merpati and airport operator Angkasa Pura, as well as airport security personnel, over Saturday’s incident.

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