Sodomy sus­pect’s ar­rest shocks Batam neigh­bours

S’porean taught dance, so they didn’t sus­pect any­thing amiss at pres­ence of boys at his home

The Straits Times - - TOPOF THE NEWS - Fran­cis Chan In­done­sia Bu­reau Chief In Jakarta

Mo­ham­mad Asri Sa­puan taught Kuda Lump­ing, a tra­di­tional Ja­vanese dance where per­form­ers ride on a pup­pet horse, at his home in Batam.

That may have been why neigh­bours of the Sin­ga­porean did not sus­pect any­thing amiss when young boys were often seen at his house, which dou­bled as a dance stu­dio.

Many res­i­dents The Straits Times spoke to yes­ter­day said they were shocked when the po­lice came and ar­rested the 46-year-old on Sun­day on charges of sodomy.

Batam po­lice have so far iden­ti­fied three al­leged vic­tims, be­tween the ages of 12 and 16.

But there could be as many as 10 vic­tims, judg­ing from the num­ber of boys in Asri’s home when he was picked up, said Sec­ond In­spec­tor Benny Syahrizal.

“All the chil­dren in the house were brought to the po­lice sta­tion to be ex­am­ined, and two told us they were sodomised by the sus­pect re­cently,” said the chief de­tec­tive from Nongsa dis­trict po­lice.

The two boys, aged 15 and 16, who are still in ju­nior high school, reg­u­larly slept over at Asri’s home.

In­spec­tor Benny al­leged that Asri would give each one 20,000 ru­piah (S$2) af­ter the as­sault.

The po­lice were alerted to the case last week by the mother of a third vic­tim, who is only 12, af­ter she dis­cov­ered mes­sages be­tween her son and Asri on Face­book.

“The boy for­got to sign out from FB on his mother’s cell­phone,” said In­spec­tor Benny, re­fer­ring to the so­cial net­work­ing site. “He re­lated what hap­pened af­ter be­ing ques­tioned for over two hours.”

In­ves­ti­ga­tions in­di­cated that Asri would lure the boys to his home with money or un­der the pre­text of teach­ing them Kuda Lump­ing.

Per­form­ers of the dance some­times claim to be pos­sessed by spir­its, and while in a trance, may dis­play un­usual abil­i­ties such as eat­ing glass.

The po­lice said Asri, who has over­stayed in Batam since Jan 30, 2014, used the ruse as a dance teacher to sex­u­ally groom the boys, later sodomis­ing them in his home as well as in his car.

The vic­tims were as­saulted on sev­eral oc­ca­sions be­tween Sept 16 and 24, ac­cord­ing to In­spec­tor Benny.

If found guilty un­der child pro­tec­tion laws in In­done­sia, Asri could be sen­tenced to a max­i­mum of 15 years in jail and fined five bil­lion ru­piah, on each count of sodomy.

Records show that he used to live in Selegie Road and had two small com­pa­nies in Sin­ga­pore, both of which were struck off as of 2006.

The po­lice and his neigh­bours in Jas­inta, a town 30 min­utes’ drive from down­town Batam, where he now lives, said that Asri also worked as a driver and guide for vis­i­tors from Sin­ga­pore.

Ac­cord­ing to Jas­inta res­i­dent Sukarmi, who like some In­done­sians goes by just one name, Asri was well-known in the es­tate.

“Dur­ing the In­de­pen­dence Day cel­e­bra­tions on Aug 17, he put on a show with his stu­dents,” said the 46-year-old.

“He has been here for a long time, and he is friendly, but I re­alised he does not like women.”

Another res­i­dent, who asked not to be named, said she knew Asri was a wid­ower from Sin­ga­pore, but was not aware that he had over­stayed in Batam.

She added: “He seemed friendly and was ac­tive in pro­mot­ing his dance, but I am shocked that he is in­volved in a sodomy case here.”

PHO­TOS: F. PANGESTU

Mo­ham­mad Asri Sa­puan (left) al­legedly com­mit­ted the crimes in Septem­ber at his home, which dou­bled as a dance stu­dio, in Jas­inta, a town 30 min­utes’ drive from down­town Batam. It is feared that there could be as many as 10 vic­tims, both chil­dren and teens.

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