Torture and killing of Ishak Dewayekua - Disappointing verdict in military trial

On 9 August 2018, a panel of judges at the Military Court III-19 in Jayapura found the three military members first Sergeant La Dili Wance, Abiatar Harri Katoar and Fredrik Pattiasina guilty for collectively ill-treating Ishak Dewayekua, causing the victim’s death. First Sergeant La Dili Wance was sentenced to one year and eight months imprisonment, while Abiatar Harri Katoar and Fredrik Pattiasina received an imprisonment sentence of one year and four months. The three defendants were charged with article 351 (1), (3), article 55 (1/1) of the Indonesian Penal Code (KUHP), article 26 and article 190 (1), (3) and (4) of the Law 31/1997 about military justice. The imprisonment period will be reduced by the period of detention. The three members were dismissed from military service. However, human rights activists criticized that the applied legal standards during the justice process were low and the verdict is disproportionate to the severity of the crime.

The three military officers had unlawfully arrested and tortured Isak Dewayekua (23) on 18 November 2017  at the at the Yalet military post in Kimaam District of Merauke Regency. The following day, Ishak Dewayekua passed away due to the severe injuries which he sustained as a result of the torture. When his sister visited Ishak Dewakyekua at the Kimam Sub-district police station in the afternoon, she found him unconscious on the floor of his cell. His chest was swollen and his body was covered in bruises and blood. Later a military officer came to the family’s house and asked where they wanted to bury the body. An autopsy under strict guard by the police and military personnel was performed on the same day in a local health center (PUSKESMAS). It was only then that the family was allowed to see Mr Dewakyekua’s body.


Background information on justice process

An investigation was launched by the Military Police of Merauke (POMDAM Merauke) in November 2017 and the matter was submitted to the Military Police of Cendrawasih (Provincial level of Papua) in December 2017. The trial (No. 62-K/PM.III-19/AD/V/2018) commenced only on 5 July 2018 at the Military Court III-19, Jayapura. In the first hearing, the military prosecutors submitted the indictment of the alleged violation committed by the three officers of Yonif 755/Yalet military unit. The Commission for Disappearances and Victims of Violence (KontraS) noted a number of concerning discrepancies between their investigation results and that of the Military Police.

KontraS observed that the military police investigators failed to examine all relevant witnesses. The military police’s version of the factual background also omitted a number of crucial facts. The military police investigators further avoided charging one of the alleged perpetrators, Mr Abiatar, for sexual harassment, despite a report that he tried to persuade Ishak Dewayekua’s younger sister for sexual favors. In the trial, the military judges examined two police officers and four army personnel as witnesses. These witnesses testified only with regard to the torture allegations. The judges failed to examine several witnesses from the victim’s family, including Ishak Dewayekua’s  sisters. Despite the two sisters having been officially invited by the court, they have not been able to attend the court as the trial is held in the distant city of Jayapura and they did not have the financial means to afford the airplane tickets.