After a lengthy, nearly yearlong investigation, the Jakarta Police on Monday named renowned poet Sitok Srengenge, or Sitok Sudarto, a suspect in a sexual assault case involving a University of Indonesia (UI) student.
Jakarta Police chief detective of general crimes Sr. Comr. Heru Pranoto told reporters that the extended investigation was needed to gather detailed information from experts and to obtain at least two pieces of evidence to connect Sitok to the crime."We acknowledge that the investigation has taken almost a year since the case was first reported to us last November. However, we needed to consult with experts to examine objectively whether or not the accusations were criminal. We especially needed to clarify the word 'helpless' [as they applied to the victim] in our laws," he said.
The naming of Sitok as a suspect contradicts statements made a couple months ago by the Jakarta Police, who cited a lack of incriminating evidence as grounds for possibly dropping the case.
In response to the statement, several UI law professors sprang into action, urging the police not to drop the case during a public discussion at the campus last month.
Sitok, 49, stands accused of impregnating a 22-year-old UI student and assaulting her several times in March 2013 after she requested help with her thesis. The victim's counselor, UI lecturer Saras Dewi, reported to the police that Sitok had coerced the victim into having sex with him through intimidation and using alcohol.
Heru explained that Sitok was named a suspect on suspicion of untoward conduct as defined in Article 335 of the Criminal Code (KUHP). Furthermore, he could be charged with violations of articles 286 and 294 of the KUHP for adultery with a woman who is unconscious or helpless and for abusing his authority to sexually harass subordinates.
Meeting the criteria of "helpless" as defined in Article 286 of the KUHP was one of the reasons for the drawn-out investigation, Heru said. Police questioned 11 experts, including criminologists, criminal law experts, psychologists, psychiatrists and anthropologists.
"We even consulted with a criminal law expert who analyzes the laws from a female perspective," he said.
Separately, the victim's lawyer, Iwan Pangka, welcomed the news and told The Jakarta Post that Sitok being named a suspect was a breakthrough for the police force.
"It shows that they are getting rid of old traditions where they drop sexual abuse cases quickly because of insufficient evidence. I commend the investigators for having worked so hard to gather enough evidence to name Sitok a suspect and I hope the rest of the investigation will go smoothly," he said.
Iwan said he was optimistic that the case would become an example for how the police should handle sexual abuse cases in the future.