On 22 February 2021, police officers reportedly arrested Rupinus Nabelau in front of the Jepara Wadio Hotel in Nabire without showing a warrant. He was suspected of buying illegal firearms. Rupinus’ relatives and lawyer claim the officers brought him to an unknown location and tortured him for several hours. In vain, the relatives tried to find Rupinus Nabelau at the Nabire police station and the local hospital. In the late evening, family members were informed that he was admitted to the Siriwini Hospital in Nabire. Rupinus Nabelau’s face was allegedly bruised due to physical torture as they visited him at the hospital the following morning.
His lawyer explained in a media interview dating 6 April 2021 that the police had still not filed the case to the public prosecutor. A lack of evidence may be the reason for the slow processing of the case. The police investigators must at least complete any criminal allegation with two pieces of evidence before the case can be submitted to a court, the lawyer elaborated.
The case is not an exception. Multiple cases of arbitrary arrests of Papuan suspects between January and April 2021 indicate that criminal investigators and public prosecutors tend to push for a trial process despite the lack of evidence – a strategy that law enforcement institutions often apply to silence pro-independence activists and government critics.