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Indonesia jails 4 more soldiers for prison killing

September 6, 2013

YOGYAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) — An Indonesian military tribunal sentenced four more special forces soldiers on Friday to up to 15 months in jail for their involvement in the execution of four prisoners to avenge the murder of a fellow soldier.

The defendants — Ikhmawan Suprapto, Rokhmadi, Sutar and Muhammad Zaenuri — were convicted in two separate trials in Yogyakarta province on the main island of Java.

The sentences were handed down a day after eight soldiers from the same unit were sent to jail for up to 11 years for their involvement in the execution.

The soldiers wore masks as they broke into Cebongan prison in Yogyakarta on March 23, seeking out four men being held on charges of killing another member of their special unit, known as Kopassus.

Second Sgt. Suprapto, who drove the car carrying the soldiers to the prison, was sentenced to 15 months, while the three others were given sentences of 20 days to four months after being found guilty of failing to prevent their fellow soldiers from carrying out the execution or for not reporting it to their superiors.

During the raid, the soldiers tortured several guards before forcing them to open the jail cell, and shot the inmates with automatic weapons and destroyed surveillance cameras.

The case sparked a national outcry among Indonesians demanding that the military not be allowed to operate with impunity.

But police said the killed inmates were gang members, and many local residents believed the soldiers were deterring other thugs who have created disturbances in Yogyakarta, a popular tourist destination.

They staged rallies during the trials, calling on the court to free the defendants.

Kopassus troops have been implicated in a range of crimes and human rights violations over the years, but officials say they have worked to address the problem.

The case is also seen as a test of how far the military has come since the United States resumed some assistance to Kopassus three years ago after a 12-year break because of human rights concerns.

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