Pekanbaru. The Indonesian Air Force soldier caught on video beating up a journalist covering a recent plane crash in Pekanbaru met the latter on Thursday, issuing an apology and his readiness to be sanctioned for his actions.
“I apologize and request that the problem can be soon settled,” Lt. Col. Robert Simanjuntak said at the headquarters of local newspaper Riau Pos in Pekanbaru on Thursday.
“The sooner this issue is solved, the sooner I can continue on with my duties,” he added, as quoted by the Indonesian news portal detik.com.
Robert was speaking in front of a number of journalists, lawmakers and senior officials of the local military command.
Upon making the statement, he walked over to Didik Herwanto, a photographer with the Riau Pos whom he kicked, beat and choked while the latter was trying to take pictures of the wreckage of the BAE Systems/British Aerospace Hawk 200 fighter jet that crashed over Pekanbaru on Tuesday, and hugged him before shaking hands with other journalists.
Five other journalists were reportedly abused by soldiers at the scene, including Fakhri Rubianto of Riau Televisi, Ari of TV One, RTV’s Irwansyah and Andika of Vokal.
Two of them had their equipment confiscated.
Only the beating of Didik by Robert, however, was caught on video and uploaded to YouTube by the Riau Pos.
The attacks quickly drew harsh criticism, with hundreds of journalists nationwide staging a protest on Wednesday condemning the violent treatment of their colleagues.
Air Force Chief of Staff Marshall Imam Sufaat has apologized for the incident, saying Robert will be transferred from his current post at Roesmin Nurjadin Airbase in Pekanbaru, although he did not mention to where.