Centre not a high-security prison: Expert

JAKARTA • The deadly 36-hour stand-off at the National Police Mobile Brigade headquarters (Mako Brimob) in Depok, West Java, was a result of poor planning.

The regular detention centre, where the clashes started on Tuesday night and ended only on Thursday, was turned into a high-security prison to house terror detainees. However, correctional system expert Leopold Sudaryono said the Mako Brimob detention centre did not meet the basic requirements for high-security prisons set by the 2003 Law and Human Rights ministerial regulation on the designs for the country's prisons and detention centres.

"The ministry requires wall thickness to be 20cm, and we could see that Mako Brimob does not have that. The regulation also requires that there be five locked doors between the inmates and the outside world. This requirement was also not met," he said.

Dozens of terror detainees broke through the walls and prison bars and stormed the investigators' room, where they assaulted officers who were questioning new detainees. They later seized weapons and explosive materials, which led to a 36-hour stand-off between the inmates and security forces.

The Mako Brimob detention centre opened in 2007 to serve as a temporary holding facility for police officers facing criminal charges. It is situated in the middle of a key police facility.

A number of generals have been detained at the facility, including graft suspects Susno Duadji and Suyitno Landung. Other high-profile graft suspects included former Democratic Party treasurer Muhammad Nazaruddin and former Jakarta governor Basuki "Ahok" Tjahaja Purnama, who is serving his prison term for blasphemy.

Mr Leopold said the addition of 156 terrorist inmates had put more pressure on the facility. "This detention centre is located in the middle of the Brimob headquarters, which is surrounded by offices, a police housing complex and an armoury. This was a dream location for the terrorists because they have access to weapons and civilians nearby," he said.

The latest riot was the second in less than seven months, after a brawl in November last year, when terrorism detainees resisted efforts by police guards to search their cells for contraband.

The Mako Brimob facility also has to deal with overcrowding. Three blocks, each with 14 individual cells, housed 156 terror inmates until Wednesday's riot.

National Police spokesman Muhammad Iqbal said 155 terror detainees were sent to Nusakambangan prison island, off Cilacap, after the stand-off.

But Law and Human Rights Ministry's director-general for penitentiaries Sri Puguh Utami said 145 inmates had been shipped to Nusakambangan.


A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on May 12, 2018, with the headline 'Centre not a high-security prison: Expert'. Subscribe