Two Policemen Arrested Over Petrol Station Hold-Ups

DENPASAR

Two officers of the National Police’s elite Mobile Brigade (Brimob) are among seven men arrested on suspicion of involvement in recent armed robberies at petrol stations in Bali.

The first arrest came last Friday in Lumajang, East Java, when a police team from Bali led by senior officer Beny Arjanto seized a local man previously resident in Bali, Muhammad Yasin, on suspicion of taking part in the robberies. A police spokesman said Yasin was arrested at his home in Lumajang having been tracked down using information provided by East Java Police.

The arrested man is believed to have taken part in three armed robberies at filling stations in Bali in recent months. A gang of thieves struck filling stations in Ubud and on the Udayana University campus near Jimbaran in October, netting an estimated Rp178 million (US$20,000). A third robbery took place in Abiansemal on January 15, when the gang used a crowbar to remove a safe containing Rp34.8 million.

A police spokesman told reporters he believed the same gang was connected to a recent spate of violent break-ins at villas and residential properties in south Bali, but after the capture of Yasin in Java a string of other arrests followed at various locations in Bali over the weekend.

As well as Yasin, Denpasar Police are currently holding six men, of whom two — Eko Suyatno, also known as Enok, and Sutia Aji — are Mobile Brigade officers with the rank of first brigadier. The other men have been identified as Valensius Siku Teru, Eko Anggara, Endro Widiyo Seno and Suhardiyanto.

Speaking to the media on Wednesday, Denpasar Police spokesman Suryanbodo Asmoro said the two arrested officers were likely to have played a major role in the robberies, in which petrol station attendants were tied up and threatened with handguns.

“Yasin and Valensius seem to have been the originators of the plot, but the ones who had the guts to act were the Brimob officers,” Asmoro said, adding that the men — who are brothers-in-law — were believed to have used their service revolvers during the hold-ups.

Earlier, a police source who spoke on condition of anonymity said that officers were struggling to accrue evidence in the case as the suspects are believed to have already spent the money taken during the raids.

“They each got tens of millions of rupiah, but they seem to have used it all in some kind of wild spree,” he said.

Five of the arrested men were presented to the media at a press conference in Denpasar on Wednesday, but the Brimob officers, who are being detained separately at the elite Detachment 88 antiterrorist unit headquarters in the Bali capital, were not present.

“You’ll see their faces later in court,” said police spokesman Eddy Tambunan, adding that the Brimob officers are believed to have had debts they were unable to cover with their Rp3.5-million monthly salaries.

“That seems to be the most likely explanation for why they did it, but we’re still looking into the precise motives,” he said.

Answering questions from reporters, Yasin — who, like the other detainees, wore a mask during the press conference — said his income as a carpenter was not enough to meet his daily living costs.

“We all came up with the idea together,” he said, adding that the Brimob officers had been eager to join the gang.

“They said OK, and we immediately started looking for a target,” Yasin said.

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