Two policemen along with a retired cop and a local government official were among six people arrested May 15th on suspicion of setting fire to two Donggala Regency sub-district office buildings, both containing boxes of ballots cast in Indonesia's April 9th legislative elections.
The buildings, about 25kms apart in the Sindue Induk and Sindue Tobata sub-districts, burned down April 16th. Police suspect arson, as both fires started around 7.00pm after the offices closed. No one was hurt in the fires, but most of the ballot boxes were destroyed.
One suspect, retired police officer Dariswan S.P. Lumu, was a Legislative Assembly candidate from the People's Conscience Party (Hanura). His potential constituency included Sindue Tobata, said Central Sulawesi Police spokesman Oetoro Saputra.
"Maybe because of his disappointment over the low vote count during April 9th Legislative
Assembly voting, Dariswan S.P. Lumu mobilised several civilians … to burn the two offices," Oetoro told Khabar Southeast Asia.
Arrested active duty policemen First Police Brigadier Reza Filsafat and First Police Brigadier M. Farid, were members of the provincial force. The three remaining suspects were identified as Subdistrict Development Programme (PPK) head Supardin, Adi Wijaya, and Rockyanto.
Crime scene evidence and testimony from 44 witnesses led to the arrests, Oetoro said, adding police were still investigating whether more people are involved. The suspects were charged under Article 187 of the Criminal Code. If convicted, they could face more than five years in prison.
Commenting on news of the burned ballots, Neta S. Pane, chairman of Indonesia Police Watch (IPW), said police needed to do a better job of protecting such documents.
"It is very important for Indonesia's National Police to evaluate their performance. Hence, similar incidents would not happen again in the presidential election on July 9th. As we know, the presidential election will be tougher than the legislative election," Neta told Khabar.
It is also important that Indonesia's Election Monitoring Agency (Bawaslu) and National Police follow-up cases of criminal electoral violations as soon as they occur, said Veri Junaidi, deputy director of the Association for Elections and Democracy (Perludem).
"Most of the time, the criminal election violation cases cannot be followed up by the police because of lack of evidence and also limited time to process the case. Hence, this kind of case usually disappears as if it never happened," Veri told Khabar.
Yosita Nirbhaya in Jakarta contributed to this report.