After arresting four moral vigilantes suspected of parading a young couple naked through the streets of a village in Tangerang Regency on Saturday, authorities have captured two more responsible for the heinous act, one of them being a neighborhood official.
The case became widely covered in Indonesia after several videos went viral, showing the visibly distressed couple being forced out of the female victim’s house onto the street by the vigilantes, who berated them for supposedly being indecent. While the man was already naked at the beginning of the videos, the woman had a t-shirt on, but the vigilantes soon forcefully stripped her completely naked, despite her ear-piercing screams for mercy. The couple were also beaten on several occasions while they were paraded around the village — which lasted for about an hour.
The police said the vigilantes also deliberately took photos and recorded the public humiliation before posting the footage online.
One of the latest suspects arrested was identified as 41-year-old Toto, who is the neighborhood chief of the RT 07 neighborhood of Kadu Village. According to the police, Toto and another suspect hit the couple while they were being paraded and forced them to come to the chief’s home for interrogation.
Following the first round of arrests, it emerged that the couple — who are actually engaged — were not involved in any of the “immoral acts” they were accused of. According to Tangerang Regency Police Chief Sabilul Alif, the male victim was only bringing food over to his fiancé’s house before it was raided and the two were forced to falsely admit that they were getting intimate out of wedlock.
An investigation into the case is still ongoing, but the suspects’ attorney said that his clients feel remorse for the incident.
“They have not revealed the details of the incident, just that they are regretful and Toto has also admitted that he slapped the victim. As to what each of their roles were, we’re still waiting on the police investigation,” said A. Goni, the suspects’ legal representation, as quoted by Tempo today.
Tohir, resident of the village, told Tempo that Toto works odd jobs and that he has been the neighborhood chief for six years. According to him, Toto has been suspicious that there were immoral activities taking place inside the female victim’s house for some time.
“The chief (Toto) has been staking out (the female victim’s house) because people were saying that a man often came around midnight,” he said.
The Tangerang Regency Police say a cyber crimes task force was formed to catch the original uploaders of footage of the incident and charge them with violations of the Informations and Electronic Transactions Act (UU ITE). As for the six suspects, the police say they could be charged with assault under Article 170 of the KUHP (Criminal Code), which is punishable by five-and-a-half years in prison or up to nine years if the victim sustains heavy injuries.
The police did not reveal the extent of the couple’s physical injuries, but they were both assigned psychiatric help to cope with the mental trauma from the abuse.