Malang, East Java. The Malang District Court on Thursday acquitted all four defendants in the 2013 death of a university freshman after prosecutors failed to secure the family’s permission to conduct an autopsy of the victim’s body.
Fikri Dolas Mantya Surya, a freshman at Malang’s National Technology Institute (ITN) died on Oct. 12, 2013 during a four-day hazing ritual at Goa Cina beach on the southern coast of the East Java district. His death was the center of the Jakarta Globe’s three-part investigation published in January 2014.
The four defendants — three of the hazing event’s organizers and an ITN lecturer who was supposed to oversee the procession — were found not guilty by the court of negligence which resulted in death, as previously charged.
“There was no evidence of negligence,” Presiding Judge Bambang Hery Mulyono said in his ruling. The court also noted that the defendants’ “good names” should be restored as they had endured “administrative sanctions from the campus as well as social sanction from society for the last two years.”
The judge said Fikri’s family’s refusal to permit an autopsy to be performed on Fikri’s body had made it difficult to determine how he died, despite acknowledging that there were bruises all over his body and a dark ooze dripping out of his mouth and nose.
“Experts have also told the court that such signs can also occur in natural death,” Judge Bambang said.
The hazing event’s chief organizer, Putra Arif Budi Santoso, its operational chief Natalia Damayanti, security chief Halimurrahman, and ITN’s planology department head Ibnu Sasongko were arrested two months after Fikri’s death after photos of the event were posted online.
Several ITN freshmen leaked the images, which depicted participants enduring abusive and degrading treatment.
The freshmen also told police that organizers had only provided two plastic bottles of water for a group of between four to six students during the proceedings — leading to exhaustion and extreme dehydration among some of the group. The court, however, accepted this fact as the organizers’ way “of building camaraderie and discipline” between freshmen.
Prosecutors earlier sought six months in prison for ITN lecturer Ibnu and eight months in prison for the three student organizers. The ruling was met with jubilation among all four defendants and their supporters.
Since Fikri’s death the ITN has barred all off-campus orientation events, while the three seniors were suspended for two semesters but allowed to continue their study afterwards. Chief organizer Putra will soon graduate.
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