Indonesian police have arrested a businessman for allegedly ordering the killing of two journalists. The two deceased journalists, Maraden Sianipar and Maratua Siregar, were mediating a land dispute between the businessman and locals in the northern Sumatra province. The journalists were found with several stab wounds in the Labuhan Batu area last week, according to officials.
Four Henchmen Brutally murdered the Journalists
Businessman Wibharry “Harry” Padmoasmolo allegedly paid almost $3,000 to the killers to kill the journalists. Padmoasmolo owns a company that makes palm oil. The commonly used vegetable oil can be found as being an ingredient in everything from soap to chocolate. The firm was in dispute with locals. The two journalists were advocating for the locals, police said.
However, The businessman hoped killings would stop the two journalist’s involvement, according to authorities. When he was being questioned, Padmoasmolo denied being the owner of the firm. However, At the time of the murders, the suspects, four men, had asked the two victims what they were doing on the plantation which led to a quarrel, ending with their death, said the North Sumatra police chief, Agus Andrianto.
The Victims Had Been Working Hard For The Rights Of Locals
Four of the murderers and the mastermind of the plot. The owner Wibharry Padmoasmolo have been arrested in connection to the murders, and police are investigating other potential suspects. The victims had worked together as journalists at a local newspaper. Then, in 2017, they decided to become freelancers.
Recently, their work in land disputes and activism had made them somewhat well-known in the region, a friend said. Land disputes are common in the resource-rich Southeast Asian area. The friend also said that Siregar was part of an organisation that advocated for residents in the arguments
Although, Many see this incident as part of a growing threat to journalists in the country, where several such deaths go unsolved, according to the Alliance of Independent Journalists.”Our palm oil industry was, and is, built upon the smeared blood and suffering of residents,” said Greenpeace campaigner Annisa Rahmawati about the two activists’ murders.