Soldiers face jail and dismissal for alleged role in people smuggling
February 15 2012, 9:27 AM
Five soldiers are facing imprisonment of between five and 15 years and dismissal from the military over their alleged involvement in the smuggling of immigrants that led to the deaths of many in a shipwreck.
The five soldiers are Chief Warrant Officer Sosiali, Chief Sergeant Choirul Anama and Chief Corporal Kariadi, Second Sergeant Cornelis Nama and Second Sergeant Ilmun Abdul Said.
According to the Military Region V/Brawijaya’s Military Police (Pomdam) Commander Col. Budi Purwono, the five are charged under Articles 120 (1) of Law No. 6/2011 on Immigration and Articles 103 and 126 of the Military Criminal Code.
“The Military Criminal Code relates to their alleged abuse of authority as TNI [Indonesian Military] members and disobedience of orders. The articles carry a maximum penalty of five years,” Budi told The Jakarta Post on Tuesday.
The case emerged after the Pomdam received a letter from the Tulungagung military office on Dec. 22, 2011 regarding the alleged involvement of its three members in the smuggling of immigrants from the Middle East to Australia.
The boat that carried the approximately 250 immigrants sank in Trenggalek waters, East Java, on Dec. 17 last year. Of the passengers 84 were confirmed dead, 49 survived while the rest were declared missing.
The five soldiers’ status as suspects was announced by Military Region V/Brawijaya Commander Maj. Gen. Murdjito.
He said that there was a strong possibility that the five would be dismissed from the military, considering the heavy sentences that their charges might carry.
“If the court convicts and sentences them to over three months’ imprisonment, then administrative sanctions and dismissals can be applied,” said Murdjito, adding that the case also proved the TNI’s seriousness in internally cleaning the institution of criminal elements.
The five are currently being detained at the Pomdam detention center, waiting for their dossiers to be handed over to the military prosecutors for trial before military tribunals.
Three of the suspects, Sosiali, Choirul Anam and Kariadi, will be dealt with prior to the other two suspects.
Another suspect in the case is Budi Santoso, a civil servant assigned to the Tulungagung District Military Command (Kodim), whose case has been handed over to the East Java Police.
Budi is among five civilian suspects in the case, with the other four being boat owners Bambang Sugianto and Nuriyanto and boat crew members Ronald Mesak and Sudirman.
They are charged under Article 303 of Law No 17/2008 on Sailing and Article 120 of Law 6/2011 on Immigration. They face maximum sentences of five years’ imprisonment each.
Indonesia has become a stopover for immigrants, generally coming from Middle East, on their way to seek asylum in Australia.
The tragedy in December was the latest in a string of sea accidents that have claimed the lives of many immigrants.
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