10 student killers remain free despite conviction
National News – April 16, 2004
Yuli Tri Suwarni, The Jakarta Post, Sumedang, West Java
A local court sentenced on Thursday 10 students of the Institute of Public Administration (STPDN) in Jatinangor, Sumedang, to only seven to 10 months in jail over last year’s killing of fellow student Wahyu Hidayat.
Further, the defendants remained free — although under city arrest — as the Sumedang District Court did not order the sentence to be carried out immediately.
The prosecution had sought up to five years in prison for the defendants, who were charged as accessories to the unlawful killing of Wahyu, 20, on Sept. 2, 2003.
The Sumedang Police had detained 8 students between Sept. 28, 2003 and Jan. 21, 2004, excepting Sandra and Hendi, and were placed under city arrest at the request of STPDN officials.
Disappointed by the light verdicts after a seven-month trial, the prosecution said it would appeal to a higher court.
Eight of the convicted students — Deky Siswandi, Oktaviano, Gema Awal Ramadhan, Yopi Maulana, Dena Reka Febrianto, Bangun Robinson, Dadang Hadi Surya and Yayan Sopian — received 10 months in jail for their key roles in the crime.
The remaining two — Hendi Setiadi and Sandra — received sentences of only seven months. The two had been expelled from the institute, but have been allowed to resume their studies at the Jatinangor campus.
Presiding judge Agoes Rahardjo said the defendants could not be charged under Article 170 of the Criminal Code on gang assault in a public area leading to the death of another, because the STPDN campus where Wahyu was beaten to death was not a public place.
Moreover, allegations that Wahyu had died from the beating was not proven in the trial, Agoes added.
An autopsy conducted at the University of Indonesia Medical School found that Wahyu’s death was caused by injuries to the neck and head.
However, witnesses testified that Wahyu had been beaten only in the chest and stomach.
Agoes said the 10 students were convicted because their actions had tarnished the image of the state-run school and caused public worry.
Ahead of the reading of the verdict on Thursday — which was delayed for five hours — the defendants, dressed in their black and blue school uniforms and accompanied by their families and other STPDN students, looked relaxed. They often exchanged jokes, laughed and even took group pictures.
When the court had handed down their verdicts, the defendants broke into grins and congratulated each other.
Wahyu died after he was assaulted by 20 seniors at the institute — which has a notorious reputation for imposing military-style discipline on its students — after he failed to attend a ceremony in Bandung to commemorate Independence Day in 2002 and a meeting between STPDN students and West Java Governor Danny Setiawan.
His death caused a national uproar because he was not the first fatality of student brutality at the institute. Three years ago, Erie Rakhman had died after a beating administered by his seniors. Seven students were charged in connection with Erie’s death and were sent to prison by the Sumedang District Court.
On Feb. 16, the same court sentenced three other STPDN students to five months for assaulting a younger student, Jurinata, in 2001.