Jakarta. The Jakarta Police announced on Wednesday they have arrested three men accused of attacking social media activist Ade Armando during a rally two days earlier. The hunt is underway for two more suspects who were identified with the help of facial recognition technology.
Ade, who is a lecturer at the University of Indonesia’s social and political studies, is recovering at Siloam Hospital after he was brutally attacked by a mob who blended with students at the pro-democracy rally in front of the parliament building in Central Jakarta.
Investigators have matched faces captured on video frames during the attack with the country’s population database known as Dukcapil, an acronym for the Population and Civil Registration Office.
“They were identified by the facial recognition system against the database of the Dukcapil,” Jakarta Police spokesman Chief Comr. Endra Zulpan told reporters.
The centralized database collects population identification numbers and photographs of adult citizens.
Three suspects in custody were identified as Komarudin, Muhammad Bagja, and Dhia Ul Haq.
Endra said the suspects didn’t know each other as they spontaneously kicked and punched the victim.
“According to accounts of the two suspects [Komarudin and Muhammad Bagja], they didn’t know each other. But they both hate Ade Armando for raising issues against their conscience,” Endra said without going into details.
They also claimed to have been provoked by the escalating situation as people shouted insults at the activist, he added.
Ade, 60, is widely known as a staunch critic of hardline Muslim groups and a supporter of President Joko Widodo.
"They saw Ade was being assaulted and they joined the violent mob," Endra said.
Two other suspects were identified as Ade Purnama and Abdul Latip.
"We will hunt and get them sooner or later, but it will be better if they surrender," he said.
Endra admitted that the facial recognition system was not perfect as it misled police to visit an innocent man.
Officers interrogated a man identified by the system as Abdul Manaf in the West Java town of Karawang, but they soon learned the man didn’t even attend the rally.
The particular face captured on the video frame was wearing a hat, hampering the system from delivering an accurate result, Andre said.
“He [Abdul Manaf] has a strong alibi. He was in Karawang not Jakarta at the time of the crime,” Endra said, adding that investigators have verified Abdul’s claim.
A fourth man was arrested after he appeared on a video provoking more people to storm into the scene to counter police response to the attack, but it was unclear if he was named a criminal suspect.
"We arrested Arif Pardani in Jakarta because he appeared on video spreading [false] information that Ade Armando is dead and people should come to the scene," the police spokesman said.
At least six policemen were injured and hospitalized after they confronted the mob when Ade was being rescued.
Monday's rally by students voiced protests against the rumored amendment of the constitution to allow a third presidential term and the alleged plan to postpone the 2024 presidential election.
Police said earlier that none of the key suspects were students. One of them works as a security guard in Bogor, while another one is a teacher at an Islamic boarding school.