South Sumatran officers get light sentencing for attacks

Twenty-two officers of South Sumatra Police Mobile Brigade were handed down between two- and three-weeks’ detention by a recent tribunal in Parlembang.

The case erupted following the officers’ attack on residents, and excessive use of force during a protest over land rights at a state plantation company.

“They have been found to have violated regulations by firing rubber bullets when they clashed with farmers during the rally. Their actions were considered disrespectful to human rights and dishonorable to the police corps,” provincial police spokesman Sr. Comr. Abdul Gofur said Friday.

Eleven villagers were wounded when members of the Ogan Ilir Police Brimob fired at them in an attempt to disperse a demonstration in December at the state plantation company PTPN VII Cinta Manis, while three employees of the company sustained knife wounds.

The violence is reminiscent of an incident 2 months earlier when around 1,500 Rengas villagers felled and burned sugarcane crops at the company's District 6 site in an effort to seize a 1,529-hectare plot they claimed as their own.

Separately, Yophie Barata, a lawyer representing the residents, said he was “deeply upset” by the leniency of the punishment.

“The case should have been brought to the district court for its criminal elements,” he told The Jakarta Post.