Makassar Police arrest and torture a man – he dies shortly after

The Makassar Police Drug Unit arrested Muh Arfandi Ardiansyah on 15 May 2022 on Jl Rappokalling, Makassar, South Sulawesi Province. Muh Arfandi Ardiansyah was found dead the same day, sometime after being arrested. The police accused him of being a drug dealer but later amended their statement, saying that Arfandi had not been a drug dealer. Arfandi’s body was full of bruises, and several bones were broken, indicating that Arfandi had been a victim of torture by the police.

Tracking statements in the early days of the incident

On 15 May 2022, Kompol Doli Martua, Head of the Narcotics Unit of Makassar City Police (Polrestabes), said stated:

  • Arfandi was arrested by members of the Makassar Police Narcotics Unit at Jalan Rappokalling, Makassar City, Sunday, 15 May 2022, in the early morning;
  • Arfandi had been a target of police operations and was classified as a methamphetamine dealer in Makassar;
  • Arfandi had been conducting a drug transaction. During the arrest, the police allegedly found evidence of six sachets of methamphetamine weighing 2 grams each and IDR 200,000 in cash. A urine test was conducted, and it came back positive for drugs.
  • Arfandi had resisted arrest and had fought back during detention, resulting in injuries on the victim’s body.
  • Arfandi experienced shortness of breath while he was secured at the police station and was therefore taken to the hospital;
  • The doctor stated that Arfandi died on the way to the hospital;
  • The cause of death was still being investigated and awaiting autopsy results.

16 May 2020, Makassar Police Chief Kombes Budi Haryanto clarified that the victim was not a drug dealer. He said, “According to the information concerned, he often makes (drug) sales. We are investigating whether he is an intermediary, not a dealer.”

Initial police communication with the victim’s family

The victim’s father, Mukram, initially received news about his son via cell phone from someone claiming to be the police. The policeman asked Mukram to immediately go to Bhayangkara Hospital Makassar because his son had been arrested in a drug case. Mukram stated that he was surprised to be summoned to a hospital and not the police station if his son had been arrested.

After being sent from the hospital to the police station several times, Mukram could finally see his son’s body after five hours. Mukram describes his son’s body as battered and full of severe injuries. His arms and hands were swollen and broken, and his ears had been bleeding. Both legs were also swollen. Due to the nature of the injuries, Mukram suspected his son had been beaten and electrocuted and that torture had been the cause of death.

Victim’s medical history

Mukram stated that his son had never suffered from shortness of breath and had never been diagnosed with asthma. Arfandi had been in good health, according to his father.

Allegations of drug distribution

Mukram also denied that his late son had been a drug dealer. He stated that Arfandi had worked at his mother’s business in the Central Market, selling clothes since childhood. The police later noted that the victim had not been a drug dealer.

Delays in investigation and conflicting police statements

On 18 May 2022, three days after the victim’s death, the Head of Public Relations of the South Sulawesi Police, Komang Suartana, said six members of the Makassar Police Drug Unit were proven to have violated the code of ethics when arresting Arfandi. An investigation by the South Sulawesi division for police conduct (Propam) found that the officers had acted negligently when securing the suspect.  However, the spokesperson did not elaborate on the type of violation and the ongoing investigation.

On 23 May 2022, Komang stated that eight police officers of the drug unit had been transferred to facilitate the examination. Though in his initial statement on May 18 2022, Komang had said that the officers had been negligent during the arrest of Muh Arfandi Ardiansyah, on May 23, Komang stated that further investigation and the autopsy report were needed to determine whether or not the officers were guilty of misconduct. 

In June 2022, the South Sulawesi Regional Police stated that they could not take further action because the autopsy results had not yet been released. Previously, at the request of Arfandi’s parents, the South Sulawesi Police Forensic Team had exhumed Arfandi’s body at the Bontoala Arab Cemetery on Thursday, 19 May 2022, four days after his death. Samples were taken to Hasanuddin University (Unhas) for investigation.

On June 22, Makassar police stated that they had not received an autopsy report and that the pathologists were having difficulties determining the cause of death because the body had been badly decayed, despite the exhumation having taken place only four days after the victim’s death.

Settlement and arrest

On 8 August 2022, the Head of Public Relations of the South Sulawesi Police, Kombes Polisi Komang Suartana, stated that the alleged perpetrators and the victim’s family had “reconciled”, and the family had received compensation. “With the peace agreement, it is possible that the case will not continue. It could be stopped or continued with a light sentence,” said Komang Suartana.

Despite the settlement, the victim’s father, Mukram, was later detained by the police on defamation charges. Sya’ban, Mukram’s lawyer, stated that he believes the police officers wanted revenge for the allegations made by the victim’s family against the police. Mukram was later released, and another settlement was reached between the police and the victim’s family.

Current status

Until November 2022, Arfandi’s family has not received a copy of the autopsy report or an official statement on the cause of death. Mukram, the father of Arfandi, was only told that there had been 26 bruises on his son’s body.

There has also been no information regarding the legal process against the alleged perpetrators.

Detailed Case Data
name of the location: Polrestabes Makassar (-5.132235493373533, 119.40873672711245)
administrative region: Indonesia, South Sulawesi Province, Makassar City
total number of victims: 1
period of incident: 15.05.2022
perpetrator: police
perpetrator details: unknown
Issues: torture, extra-judicial killings
Further HRM News:

NumberName, DetailsGenderAgeGroup AffiliationViolation
1Muh Arfandi Ardiansyahmale18unknown torture, execution