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A Mafia-Style Killing of Journalist After Reporting Gambling

Translator

TEMPO

Editor

Laila Afifa

10 July 2024 15:23 WIB

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TEMPO.CO, JakartaMilitary personnel are suspected of involvement in the murder of Rico Sempurna Pasaribu, a local journalist who wrote about gambling. The perpetrator must be tried in a civil court.

KABANJAHE is not an area controlled by the mafia. But the murders of Rico Sempurna Pasaribu and his family, allegedly by military personnel, in the region 75 kilometers from Medan, North Sumatra, are no different from the evil deeds of a criminal syndicate. He lost his life after reporting on gambling in the area.

Rico worked for Tribata TV, an online news portal that frequently reports police activities. He recently wrote about gambling in Jalan Kapten Bom Ginting, Padangmas subdistrict, Kabanjahe. Shortly after, he began receiving threats and was subsequently found dead in his burned-out house. His wife, child, and three-year-old grandchild died at the same place.

An investigation by the Journalist Safety Committee found indications of links between Rico’s murder and his revelations about gambling. The sadistic killer is alleged to be a member of the Indonesian Military (TNI) with the rank of first corporal. He was involved in managing the gambling venue that Rico wrote about.

This is not the first time there have been allegations of military personnel being involved in illegal gambling. But the barbaric act carried out by the “rogue individual”—the term always used to refer to perpetrators of murders involving military or police personnel—was outside the bounds of humanity. Even if, according to Journalist Safety Committee investigators, Rico had a link with the gambling he wrote about, he did not deserve to lose his life, especially since the murderer also killed members of his family.

This barbaric act against Rico and his family adds to the long list of violence involving military personnel. According to the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence, there were 74 cases of violence against civilians involving TNI personnel between October 2022 and September 2023. The types of violent conduct by TNI personnel were mostly beatings, followed by intimidation, torture, kidnapping, shooting, and sexual violence.

Many military personnel also still protect illegal businesses such as gambling, drug dealing, prostitution, and logging. Their involvement in these illegal businesses has the potential to lead to conflict between local people and other law enforcement institutions such as the police, especially since at the same time, many police officers are involved in the same illegal activities.

Leaving aside the status and work of Rico, the police need to investigate this murder seriously. All the facts must be brought out into the open. The police must not use machinations in the investigation, such as concluding that the fire at Rico’s home was an accident. One indication of this intention is the spreading of information that the fire that broke out and engulfed Rico’s home was triggered by gasoline and gas cylinders stored at his shop.

Murders and corruption allegedly involving TNI personnel are almost never properly investigated. If Rico’s murderer is indeed a soldier, he should be tried in a civil court. A military court would not be the right place to deal with this type of crime. A civil court would also demonstrate the principle that all citizens are equal before the law.

Read the Complete Story in Tempo English Magazine



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