Police Name Suspects in Bullying Case That Grips the Nation
Jakarta. Police have named three 17-year-old girls as suspects in the assault of a 14-year-old girl in Pontianak, West Kalimantan, in a case that sent shock waves across social media this week.
Early unverified reports on social media suggested the victim was on the receiving end of a barrage of physical and sexual assaults by a group of her friends.
Many public figures have come forward to condemn the assault. President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo even made a rare public comment on Wednesday (10/04) asking the police to speed up investigation into the case.
"We are expecting to hand over the case to the attorney general by tomorrow," Pontianak Police spokesman Brig. Gen Dedi Prasetyo said on Thursday.
Earlier, Pontianak Police chief Muhammad Anwar Nasir said, as quoted by Antara, that the three suspects may be charged by the 2014 Child Protection Law, which means they could face up to three and a half years in prison.
The victim—a junior high school student—was attacked on March 29 and reported the incident to the police on Monday.
She told the police the attackers picked her up at her grandfather's home and took her to meet her cousin.
The victim was then taken to Jalan Sulawesi where she was interrogated before receiving multiple kicks in the stomach, had her head slammed against the asphalt road and water poured on her.
According to the confession of one of the suspects, the victim put on a fight then tried to run away, but the attackers caught up with her at nearby Taman Akcaya, where she received more beatings.
Apart from the three main suspects, nine other people were reportedly also involved in the assaults. They were cheering their friends on as the attack happened. The police have named them as witnesses.
The assault was apparently triggered by a war of words on social media between the attackers, the victim and her cousin, who used to date one of the attackers.
The victim did not tell her parents immediately about the assault because she received multiple threats from her attackers. Her parents eventually found out about the incident and reported it to the police on Monday.
Reports circulating on social media mentioned that the attackers also struck the victim’s genitalia, but this was later denied by the West Kalimantan Police after they conducted a forensic medical examination.
"We found no cuts, wounds or other physical trauma on the victim's private area," West Kalimantan Police’s medical division head Sucipto said on Wednesday.
The victim is currently being treated for physical and psychological abuse in intensive care at Promedika Hospital in Pontianak.
The case triggered a wild uproar on social media. A trending hashtag was swiftly created and an online petition launched. Over 3.7 million people have signed the petition by Thursday morning.
Various accounts of the incident have surfaced and spread like wildfire.
Some of them claimed that the West Kalimantan KPPAD (Regional Child Monitoring and Protection Commission) wants a "peaceful" resolution to the case, instead of launching legal action against the perpetrators. This caused further outcry on social media.
The Indonesian Child Protection Commission (KPAI), KPPAD's central body, has denied the allegations.
KPAI's head of education Retno Listyarti said the police should remain thorough in its investigation of the case and urged that they follow closely the established guidelines in the 2012 Juvenile Criminal Justice System when interrogating the perpetrators.
"KPAI and the West Kalimantan KPPAD will collaborate with the police officers in charge of this case. We warn the police and the media not to reveal the identities of the offenders or the victim," Retno said in a statement on Tuesday.
The KPAI and KPPAD will also work together with the Women's Empowerment and Child Protection Agency (PPA) and the Integrated Care Center for the Empowerment of Women and Children (P2TP2A) in Pontianak to provide psychological counseling to both the offenders and the victim.
"P2TP2A psychologists will asses the teenagers and help them in their rehabilitation, so they don't repeat their actions. We must help them to develop a positive image of themselves and a purpose in life. Parents will play a very important role here," Retno said.