Army sergeant to be criminally charged for assaulting traffic police officer despite ‘mental illness’: TNI commander

Photo: Video screengrab

An army sergeant, identified by his initials WS, is set to be criminally charged following his assault on a traffic police officer in the city of Pekanbaru, Riau.

The incident was caught on video, which was posted by @polantasindonesia, an Instagram account that shares photos and videos of incidents related to the Indonesian Traffic Police. It shows sergeant WS angrily confronting the traffic police officer, slapping his helmet hard at one point (with 4 Non Blondes’ ‘What’s Up’ playing in the background).

Pekanbaru Police Chief Grand Commissioner Susanto confirmed the authenticity of the video. According to him, the incident occurred yesterday afternoon on Jalan Sudirman while the officer, Yoga Vernando, was on patrol. At the time, Yoga spotted WS driving his motorcycle without a helmet, but did not reprimand or fine him, so it’s not clear what set off the army sergeant.

“The army sergeant then drove after Yoga and rammed his motorcycle from behind. Yoga’s helmet was later hit four times (during their confrontation),” Susanto said, as quoted by Detik yesterday.

“In this incident, my officer (Yoga) was patient in reacting to the situation. He did not retaliate in any way.”

Indonesian Military (TNI) Commander General Gatot Nurmantyo issued a public apology on behalf of WS. While misbehaving army officers are, more often than not, investigated and sanctioned internally, Gatot said that WS would be criminally charged despite an unspecified “mental illness”.

“He will be processed (by the law) even though he’s suffering from a mental illness. The law will determine what his punishment will be,” Gatot said, as quoted by Detik today.

Gatot added that WS has been detained by the Military Police, and could soon be discharged from the military if there are no legal obstacles.

WS’ colonel, Edi Hartono, admitted that WS has been diagnosed with some kind of “depression” a few months ago. He said that WS has not been kicked out of the military because he’s being given psychiatric help by the army.

“We can’t terminate someone just like that. Like a drug addict, they (the mentally ill) must be treated first. This person (WS) is currently still in treatment but psychiatrists are limited in our hospital,” Edi said, as quoted by Detik.

In July, two members of the Indonesian military were involved in incidents in which they attacked security guards at Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta Airport. One involved a military doctor slapping a guard for allegedly being impolite and the other saw a military officer beat a guard’s face bloody, supposedly after he arrived at the airport too late for his family to check into their flight.

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