Press Council suspects TNI officer involved in fatal fire at TV journalists' home

Source – July 2, 2024
Press Council press conference on TV journalist's death – July 2, 2024 (Istimewa)

Nanda Prayoga – The Press Council suspects that an unscrupulous member of the TNI (Indonesian military) was involved in a fire that engulfed the house of Tribrata TV's journalist Rico Sempurna Pasaribu in Karo regency, North Sumatra, which killed him and his family.

Suspicions arose after the North Sumatra Committee for the Safety of Journalists (KKJ) fact finding team, which consists of a number of journalist organisations, conducted a verification and investigation into the incident.

"There are two different versions of the incident. The KKJ team version which stated there are suspicions of the involvement of a rogue TNI [officer] and the link with news reports of gambling at the house of the rogue TNI [officer]", said Press Council member Totok Suryanto in reading out a statement by Press Council Chairperson Ninik Rahayu at his office on Tuesday July 2.

"Meanwhile the other version states that the fire was because there was a gasoline spill at the victim's house which was ignited cinders. As it happens the victim's house did indeed sell retail gasoline", he added.

Aside from being a journalist, Pasaribu also sold retail gasoline from his home. Based on this incident, the Press Council has declared the incident to be a case of violence against journalists including violations of the law which contradicts the contents of Law Number 40/1999 on the Press.

Therefore, the Press Council is asking National Police Chief General Listyo Sigit Prabowo and North Sumatra Police Chief Inspector General Whisnu Hermawan Februananto to form an investigation team that is impartial and fair in the investigation. Not stopping there, the Press Council has also formed an investigation team involving journalists and government officials.

"The Press Council has also asked the TNI commander and the regional military commander to form a team to investigate the case transparently and impartially", Suryanto explained.

Earlier on Thursday June 27 a fire engulfed Sempurna's home on Jalan Nabung Surbakti Ujung in Padang Mas Village, Karo regency.

Four people died in the incident, namely Pasaribu (47), his wife Elfrida Ginting (48), his son Sudi Investi Pasaribu (12) and his grandson Loin Situngkir (2). The fire began at 3.30 am when residents in the vicinity saw the house on fire.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was "Dewan Pers Duga Ada Keterlibatan Oknum TNI di Kasus Kebakaran Rumah Wartawan Tribata TV".]