Police Arrest Officer in Aceh Child Abuse Scandal

Clerics in Aceh have called for caning for a police officer accused of sexually abusing at least two children. Under Shariah, child abusers can face up to 400 lashes of the cane. (AP Photo/Heri Juanda)

Clerics in Aceh have called for caning for a police officer accused of sexually abusing at least two children. Under Shariah, child abusers can face up to 400 lashes of the cane. (AP Photo/Heri Juanda)

Banda Aceh. Police in Aceh have named one of their own members a suspect in the alleged sexual abuse of at least two young girls, as clerics in the staunchly conservative province demand a stiff punishment for the alleged perpetrator.

The officer, identified only as M., a brigadier with the Aceh provincial police, was arrested on Tuesday in Banda Aceh and accused of the sexual abuse of two girls, aged 6 and 9 years.

Sr. Comr. Moffan Mudji Kafanti, the Banda Aceh Police chief, told the Jakarta Globe that his office was questioning the suspect and would charge him under the 2002 Child Protection Law, for which he could face up to 15 years in prison and Rp 300 million ($26,100) in fines if convicted.

The case came to light last week after children’s rights activists alleged that the officer had sexually assaulted at least five children and attempted to assault several more.

Moffan said that the parents of four of the alleged victims had allowed their children to undergo medical tests, and that two of the children appeared to show signs of having been sexually abused.

He confirmed the families’ claims that the abuses had taken place in Banda Aceh’s Meuraksa subdistrict between late March and early April. The families had filed a report with the police on April 14.

Police have already questioned seven people as witnesses in the case.

Islamic clerics have denounced the alleged abuses, calling on the police not to show any favorable treatment in their processing of the suspect.

Teungku Faisal Ali, the head of the provincial chapter of Nahdlatul Ulama, Indonesia’s biggest Islamic organization, said the police needed to be transparent in their handling of the case, particularly in light of threats reportedly made against the victims’ families by unknown groups after they went public with the allegations.

“The investigation into this shameful case should not be covered up,” said Faisal, who is also a deputy chairman of the Aceh Ulema Consultative Assembly, or MPU Aceh.

He said the perpetrator should be punished to the fullest extent of the law, and recommended the use of Shariah charges in addition to the criminal charges that the suspect now faces.

“What this person did was savage, especially considering he’s a police officer. He should have been protecting the people,” Faisal said. “He should be caned in public, according to Shariah law, to serve as an example to others that children should be protected and not abused.”

Under Aceh’s newly passed Shariah criminal code procedures, child abuse is punishable with up to 400 lashes of the cane and up to 33 years’ imprisonment.

Illiza Sa’aduddin Djamal, the interim mayor of Banda Aceh, also called for the perpetrator to face the harshest punishment possible.

She said she believed that he may have abused many more children than the five who had already come forward.

“It’s very possible that the other victims are outside Banda Aceh, and I’m sure that he abused others elsewhere. That’s why I’m calling on any members of the public who haven’t done so to come forward and report any suspicions of child abuse,” Illiza said.

The case comes at a sensitive time for the country, which is gripped by the drama unfolding over the alleged rape of a 6-year-old boy at the Jakarta International School. That case has already resulted in the closure of the school’s kindergarten campus and threats of lawsuits by the victim’s family. Two janitorial staff have been arrested and charged in the case, while dozens more are being investigated. The Jakarta Globe

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