Questions over motive for Jakarta 'toilet murder'

Zanette bursting into tears as her father's body was being buried at a cemetery in South Jakarta on Wednesday.
PHOTO: The Jakarta Post/Asia News Network

JAKARTA - The police's swift investigation into the deaths of six people in Pulo Mas, East Jakarta, on Tuesday has won public praise, but there are still lingering questions keeping up the pressure on investigators to uncover the real motives behind the crime.

On Wednesday night, the police arrested another suspect, Alfins Bernius Sinaga.

Hours earlier, a dramatic raid in Bekasi, West Java, led to the police shooting to death Ramlan Butar Butar, who already had a criminal record and was allegedly the leader of the gang.

Another suspect, Erwin Situmorang, is being held at the Jakarta Police's detention centre. The police are now hunting down the last suspect, identified as Yus Pane.

Despite the police's promptness in arresting the alleged perpetrators, some big questions have remained unanswered in the case, particularly on whether robbery was the only motive.

The police said the crime, which occurred inside a luxurious house in an upscale housing complex, was a robbery, but they could not specify what valuables had been taken except for two bags containing a Rolex watch and some foreign currency worth more than 60 million rupiah (S$6,450).

6 dead in Jakarta after being piled into tiny toilet by intruders

  • Six people died and five others were injured possibly due to suffocation after they were locked up by intruders overnight in a 2m by 1m maid's toilet at a posh house in East Jakarta
  • The dead victims were the owner of the house, identified by police as 59-year-old Dodi Triyono; two girls believed to be his daughters, 16-year-old Diona Arika Andra Puti and nine-year-old Dianita Gemma Dzalfayla;
  • a friend of the girls identified as Amel, and two drivers of the family named as Yanto and Tasrok
  • Police did not disclose who the five surviving victims are, reports said.
  • Witnesses said the intruders arrived at Mr Dodi's house on Monday afternoon, and the victims were rescued and evacuated only at about 8am on Tuesday after a visiting friend of Mr Dodi's noticed the main door had been left open and heard voices crying for help.

There are suggestions that the values of the stolen item and money were "too small" for a "professional" robbery led by a high-profile recidivist like Ramlan.

Mr Dodi Triono, the 59-year-old architect who owned the house and who died in the incident, has been depicted as a billionaire, given his luxury home and sports cars.

Mr Bambang Widodo Umar, a criminal law expert with the University of Indonesia, said being quick in arresting the suspects was important, but investigators should also be able to answer questions from the public.

"(If many questions remain unanswered), that means the police have yet to uncover the real motives, or they have yet to collect sufficient evidence," Mr Bambang told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

He said investigators should be able to explore more possibilities, such as whether the victims had been killed because of business competition, or family issues, or even revenge. Mr Bambang, who is a retired high-ranking police officer, said people could have been hired to commit the crimes.

Mr Dodi's daughters from his second marriage, Diona Arika Andra Putri, 16, and Dianita Gemma Dzalfayla, nine, as well as the girls' friend, Amel, and the family's drivers, Yanto and Tasrok, also died in the incident.

The police said medical tests confirmed the six died of asphyxiation after being locked inside a 2.25 sq m bathroom for more than 17 hours.

Another of Mr Dodi's daughters from his second marriage, Zanette Kalila Azaria, 13, and four domestic helpers, who were also locked in the bathroom, survived.

Mr Dodi lived in the house with two of his daughters from his second wife, from whom he was divorced. The police said they would question his third wife, Agnesya Kalangi, 19, who was living in a separate house, to learn about Mr Dodi's life prior to his death.