The Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) slammed the Jakarta Police’s arrest of former gang leader Rozario “Hercules” Marshal on Saturday, calling the arrest an attempt to divert the public’s attention from the nation’s current political turmoil.
Hercules, a prominent supporter of Gerindra and party chairman Prabowo Subianto’s presidential bid, was arrested by police after he smashed store windows in Kembangan, West Jakarta, following a police order to rid the neighborhood of gang activity.
“[The police] said Hercules was arrested because he broke some windows, but is the arrest really necessary?” Ahmad Muzani, the secretary general of Gerindra, said. “They also said he disrupted public order, but they didn’t explain how. This does not make any sense at all.”
Police were sent to patrol Kembangan as part of an effort to push back against Hercules’ Gerakan Rakyat Indonesia Baru (GRIB) civil society organization, a group they accuse of using intimidation to run an extortion ring in the area.
The police held a public briefing announcing plans to crack down on gang activity in the neighborhood on Friday. The briefing was witnessed by Hercules and his men, who appeared agitated at the police presence and began to smash shop windows with machetes, West Jakarta Police chief of detectives AKBP Hengki Haryadi said.
Five men were arrested at the scene.
The National Police later arrived at Hercules’ headquarters and arrested 45 others, including the group’s notorious leader. He was charged with possession of a sharp weapon, a charge that carries a maximum sentence of 20 years in jail, according to Detik.com.
A law and order analyst called the arrest dubious.
“So what if he is popular? The police should have used his potential to help protect society,” Alfons Loemau said. “They should have embraced him.”
Alfons said the arrest was likely meant to divert the public’s attention from the scandal-wracked Democratic Party.
Gerindra promised to provide Hercules and his men with legal aid.