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Bullying with Impunity Claims Life of Man in Kuta

Police Charge 4 in Beating Death of Man Wrongly Suspected of Stealing a Helmet in Kuta, Bali

Kompas.com and a number of other leading news publications report that police continue to investigate and prepare possible criminal charges in the death of Muhamad Lufti - a 25-year-old man originally from Jember in East Java, who was beaten to death near the “Ground Zero” monument in Kuta, Bali mid-day on Friday, January 24, 2020.

The beating that went viral on social media precipitated calls for justice for the dead man who, while wearing only a pair of red shorts, was manhandled and beaten into unconsciousness by a group of men, a number of whom were wearing uniforms identifying them as local security guards.

The incident was made all the more tragic by claims of “a simple misunderstanding” by some members of the crowd that beat the man. Lufti, who may have been mentally incapacitated, was apprehended by security guards who became suspicious when he parked a motorbike in front of Paddy’s Bar. Acting strangely, the man was carrying a motorcycle helmet when told bystanders sitting near the “ground zero monument” that he was returning to his motorcycle to take his helmet, apparently oblivious to the fact that he was already carrying a helmet. Arriving back at his motorcycle, Lufti tried to use his key to open the seat compartment on a motorcycle that apparently resembled his own parked a just a few feet away. This triggered Lufti’s apprehension by a group of local men, many of whom worked in security capacities at a nearby bank and other businesses.

The video shows the boy, somewhat confused and disoriented, sitting in a roadside pavilion being taunted by a mature man in a ponytail who used a walkie-talkie to harass Lufti who was already wearing handcuffs. The erratic reactions of the handcuffed man raise questions on his mental state and his ability to communicate. Also shown in the video, the physical molestation of the man by the group of men escalated to the point where the group took turns hitting and kicking the Lufti about the head and body. The video ends with Muhamad Lufti lying motionless on the ground after being given a final barrage of hits as he was held in a headlock.

Taken to Bali’s Sanglah General Hospital in an unconscious state,Muhammad Lufti died in intensive care at 9:00 pm that night.

Based on the video and angry comments from the public on social media, police admitted that regardless of whether or not a motorcycle helmet had been stolen, an entirely separate criminal case has now opened surrounding the man’s death. Using eye witness accounts and video footage, police in Kuta have interviewed 10 of the men at the scene of the beating while deciding which, if any, can be charged with homicide. The head of the criminal division of the Kuta Police Precinct, Putu Ika Praba, told Beritabali.com that 10 witness had already been interrogated in the case.

Subsequently, on January 30th, the Police in Kuta said 4 men had been now formally named as suspects in the beating death with evidence files that will soon be sent to State Prosecutors for trial. Police have yet to provide the names and occupations of the four charged in the death.

Meanwhile, Police in Kuta have not ruled out that additional men may be named as suspects in the case.

WARNING: The Content of This video may be upsetting to some readers.

The fatal beating was administered close to the “ground zero” Bali bombing monument in an exterior pavilion belonging to the nearby Panin Bank-Kuta. Police also say that there is no evidence supporting the allegations that the Jember man had stolen a motorcycle helmet and, had, at worst, merely taken someone else’s helmet by mistake.

When police arrived at the scene of the beating they noted many local residents in attendance, security from the Panin Bank, local community workers (LPM), and local community vigilantes (Linmas).

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