INDONESIA - Detectives grilled a suspect believed to be responsible for running a prostitution ring involving under-age girls through his Facebook account for hours Wednesday to determine whether he acted alone or was part of a wider criminal network.
"Please be patient, we are still exploring various possible angles of this case. Rest assured that our investigators will pursue every lead and all information thoroughly in this case," Denpasar Police detective chief Comr. Encep Syamsul Hayat said.
The suspect was identified as Kamal Laduny, alias Dony, 41, a native of Selong, East Lombok, whose lives in Anyar hamlet in Denpasar. He is allegedly the owner of the Facebook account Dony Dewata.
As of Wednesday evening, the account was still active. Its profile picture was a roll of US dollar banknotes enveloped by a condom.
There were more than 100 pictures of young girls, some in sensuous poses, and at least one post on the account's wall openly asking Dony about the rate for the girls.
"We have officially named him a suspect and he is currently detained in our facility," Encep said, adding that Laduny would likely be charged with Article 88 of Law No. 23/2002 on Child Protection.
The article carries a jail sentence of up to ten years and a fine of up to Rp 200 million (S$24,660).
Laduny was arrested on Monday by undercover detectives posing as prospective "customers" in Tunjung Bali II, a low budget hotel on Jl. Gunung Andakas, Denpasar.
The detectives also took two underage girls, identified as RR and YN, both 17 years old, into police custody in the operation.
It turned out that the detectives had been investigating the Facebook account for one month before launching the sting operation.
"The Facebook users interested in getting the services offered by Dony would have to send him a message. The suspect would responded by sending his private cell number and they would later negotiate the price and rendezvous point by cell phone."
The suspect has confessed to charging his clients Rp 800,000 for the sexual service provided by a girl of junior high school age and Rp 500,000 for one of senior high school age. He deducted 40-44 per cent as a "management" fee before giving the remaining cash to the girls.
The case has drawn growing public attention as child activists scrambled to provide counseling to the young girls victimized by the suspect.
"As of today, we have provided counseling and assistance to four young girls, their ages range from 15 to 19," head of Denpasar's P2TP2A, Luh Putu Anggreni, said Wednesday.
P2TP2A is a government body tasked with empowering and assisting women and children.
"The girls are housed in our shelter or in their parents' homes. The police have agreed to provide them with the necessary security arrangements."
She revealed the shocking fact that some of the suspect's clients were young students from Bali and regions outside Bali.
"The victims told us that they had been involved in this illegal business for quite some time."