The Jakarta Post, Jakarta
An investigation into the brutal murder of a young boy was set back when it was revealed that his body had been identified incorrectly and that the missing boy was alive.
Police announced Thursday that the body of a child found in East Jakarta on July 9 was not that of previously missing 10-year-old Asep Ridwan Saefullah, as earlier reported.
Asep was found alive by his father Kusnadi and stepfather Kamaluddin on a train from Bandung to Jakarta on Wednesday and is now safe at home.
Kusnadi and Kamaluddin were traveling to Jakarta to be interviewed by police when they saw several boys collecting trash from the train, closely watched by a few adults.
"The men were armed with samurai swords and machetes," said Kusnadi at Cakung Police station in East Jakarta.
"I saw a boy picking up garbage from the train. I called ‘Asep’ and he turned to me," he said, adding that the men initially attempted to stop them from taking Asep.
"They showed us their sharp weapons," said Kamaluddin.
An officer at the police subprecinct, who asked for anonymity, said that the forensic team at Cipto Mangunkusumo Hospital had announced that the deceased was likely to be the son of a woman from Bandung.
Asep’s mother Awangsih had approached police after her son had been missing for two weeks.
The officer said Awangsih had told the forensic experts that physical features such as a scar from stitched on the mutilated body’s left foot were the same as her son’s.
They also said a blood test matched Awangsih’s type B blood with the dead boy’s, although Awangsih says she and Asep’s father were never given blood tests.
She eventually claimed the body, however, and it was buried at Kiara Condong last week.
Police said DNA testing had not been carried out because it was regarded as unnecessary after Awangsih had claimed the body.
This is the second time the mutilated body of a child has been found in Jakarta this year.
The local community was initially concerned that the deaths were the work of a syndicate selling human organs, although forensic experts have dismissed such speculation, saying that professional help would be required to ensure the organs could be used.
The body of a boy was found in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta, in April, although it had not been dismembered. Both victims were strangled and there were signs of sexual abuse.
Arist Merdeka Sirait, the secretary general of the National Commission for the Protection of Children’s Rights, called on the government to take the murders seriously.
"Whether or not there is (an organ stealing) syndicate, what happened to the boys is alarming because our children are no longer safe out there," he said.
He said the police needed to handle the case carefully because it involved street children, whose rights were often ignored.
"Street children are not criminals. If they are summoned as a witness, please treat them like one," he said.
The Cakung Police officer said the investigation would have to restart entirely, but was confident that they would catch the perpetrator.
"We have indications that the suspect is the same as our earlier target," he said.
Awangsih said Asep often played with street children at the train station near his home.
She said that on June 30, Asep had asked for permission to visit an aunt living in Sukapura village, not far from their house in Kiara Conding.
He left and was not seen again until Thursday. Witnesses said he had been seen with a man only known as DK.
Several street children who knew Asep said they had seen a thug from Cicadas, Bandung, boarding a train with the boy.
Asep said DK had taken him at a train station in Padalarang, West Java.