Man dies with signs of torture during detention in Banjarmasin, South Kalimantan

A 31-year-old man called Subhan died on 10 June 2022 after eight days of detention by the Banjarmasin Police Drug Crimes Unit. Subhan was arrested at his home in Pekapuran B, Perkapuran Laut Village, Central Banjarmasin Subdistrict, Banjarmasin City, South Kalimantan Province, on 3 June 2022, on suspicion of distributing methamphetamine. Signs of violence on Subhan’s body indicated that the police had tortured him.  

Police Statement on the Death of Prisoner

Banjarmasin Police Chief Commissioner Sabana Atmojo Martosumito, stated that Subhan died of a heart attack and not because members of the Banjarmasin Police Drug Unit mistreated him. According to the doctor’s observation letter, the initial medical action stated that Subhan had shortness of breath. According to him, this is based on the results of blood tests in the laboratory. From the X-ray, the deceased had swelling in the heart and lungs. The results of an electrocardiogram (ECG) in an examination to measure and record the electrical activity of the heart or heart record showed Subhan’s heartbeat was weak. As reinforcement of the data and facts, the Banjarmasin Police Chief showed the results of the examination documentation while at Bhayangkara Hospital, medical records, laboratory results, heart X-rays, radiology results and ECG of the deceased.  

According to him, the police acted correctly; they took the suspect to the hospital for treatment, reported to the leadership, informed the suspect’s family about his condition, and helped finance the funeral. All costs for the body, burial and prayers three days after death, seven days after death, 25 days after death, 40 days after death, and 100 days after death are covered by the police. The Police Chief also conveyed personal and police institutional condolences for the suspect’s death.

Police and Family Communication

Around midnight on 11 June 2022, a policeman came to Subhan’s family home and asked Sonia, his wife, to go to Bhayangkara Banjarmasin Hospital. There, Sonia saw her husband lifeless with bruises covering his body. The police said that Subhan died of heart disease.

Subhan’s body was taken to Ulin Hospital in Banjarmasin. The family asked for further investigation into the cause of death. They did not believe Subhan died of a heart attack because they saw signs of violence on his body. However, the hospital did not follow the family’s request because there was no request letter from the police. So, the family had no choice but to bring Subhan’s body directly home for burial. 

Victim’s Family Statement. Subhan was dragged and beaten by the police since the arrest.

According to the victim’s wife, Sonia, on the afternoon of  3 June 2022, Subhan’s house was invaded by dozens of police officers in civilian clothes. They claimed to be from the drug investigation unit of the local police. They came to arrest her husband for allegedly selling methamphetamine.

Sonia said that her husband, a construction worker, did not resist arrest. However, the police continued to drag and beat him. Subhan was beaten in front of his wife and 3-year-old son. The policemen demanded to know where he kept the crystal methamphetamine. Neighbours also saw how sadistically the police beat Subhan. Sonia saw her husband begging for mercy from the police.

When taken to the police station on a motorcycle, her husband seemed about to faint. The police later returned to Sonia’s house to look for evidence but did not find any.

Since his arrest and detention, the police never allowed Sonia to see her husband. The family was further angered by the police’s claim that Subhan had been rushed to the hospital twice before he died. But again, the family was never informed. 

Police Internal Investigation

The Head of South Kalimantan Police Public Relations Kombes Pol Mochamad Rifa’i, on 28 June 2022, said the South Kalimantan Police’s Professional and Security Division (Bid Propam) had handled the seven members of the Banjarmasin Police Narcotics Unit involved in Subhan’s case. He said that in addition to completing an internal investigation, the individuals were included in coaching and training done by Bid Propam.

The family also reported the case to the National Human Rights Commission and Commission III of the House of Representatives. However, until now, there has been no further information about the investigation of this case. In the latest news on 3 September 2022, Inspector General Pol Rikhwanto, Head of the South Kalimantan Regional Police (Polda), when receiving a visit from Commission III of the House of Representatives, said that regarding his members who carried out the arrest, it was categorised as offside or exceeding the proper action. Hence, his party will enforce the law. He emphasised that the South Kalimantan Regional Police has also formed a team of investigators so that the case files for police officers who have been completed can be immediately submitted to the prosecutor’s office. Commission III, on that occasion, did highlight the Subhan case, but from the Polda statement until now, there has been no significant progress in disclosing the Subhan death case.

Detailed Case Data
name of the location: Perkapuran Laut (-3.325633757868639, 114.60079327260586)
administrative region: Indonesia, South Kalimantan Province, Banjarmasin City, Central Banjarmasin District, Perkapuran Laut Village
total number of victims: one
period of incident: 03.06.2022-10.06.2022
perpetrator: police
perpetrator details: Banjarmasin Polres, Drug Crimes Unit
Issues: torture, extra-judicial killings
Sources:,,,,,, Further HRM News:

NumberName, DetailsGenderAgeGroup AffiliationViolations
1Subhan, construction workermale31 unknown torture