Indonesia murder trial puts spotlight on alleged police impunity
Welcoming the start of its first trial in a brutal police killing, Indonesia has been criticised over its record of police impunity — a damning indictment that has fuelled the popularity of a new movement dedicated to accountability.
The trial of 20-year-old Riziequn Ismara, who is accused of killing her boyfriend, is being closely watched for signs of what could be a wider movement against police abuses.
Ms Ismara was arrested last year, along with her boyfriend and his three friends, after reports that they had been seen in a bar where they had been drinking and dancing.
They were reportedly drunk and had allegedly been trying to force their way into a house belonging to a neighbour.
The killing has fuelled a small vigilante justice movement calling for justice for victims of abuse.
Ms Ismara had earlier pleaded not guilty to charges of premeditated murder and forced disappearance, which carry the death penalty.
She is expected to face a trial that will probably last six to eight weeks.
Ms Ismara will also be tried alongside three other young women, aged 20, 23 and 27, who are accused of involvement in helping her kidnap her boyfriend.
She did not appear in court earlier this month. Her lawyer has accused the authorities of withholding evidence, including CCTV footage of the murder scene and text message records allegedly showing her helping to arrange the killing.
Her trial could also be subject to an appeal by the judge appointed by Ms Ismara because of questions raised over his impartiality.
At a press conference announcing the case, Deputy Chief Justice Hatta Tjahjanto said the trial would help explain “how this girl committed this crime”.
“We will demonstrate how she allegedly committed this crime,” he said.
“[The defendant] was subjected to torture, sexual abuse and humiliation. It’s not what she had done,” he said.
“She did not take any lives. She was not planning to kill.”
Ms Ismara appears to