Reporter Herliyanto was killed by a group of assailants while riding his motorcycle in a forested area connecting the villages of Tulupari and Tarokan in the Banyuanyar district of East Java province. Herliyanto, 40, was stabbed in the stomach, neck, and head shortly after evening prayers, according to the Probolinggo General Hospital’s autopsy report.
Banyuanyar police investigators found the slain journalist’s motorcycle, wallet, camera, and notebook about 100 feet (30 meters) away, according to CPJ sources. Five days later, a villager found and turned over to police investigators the slain reporter’s cell phone with the SIM card missing, CPJ sources said.
On September 26, Probolinggo police arrested three suspects identified as Slamet, 35, Nipa Cipanjar, 27, and Su’id, 50, all of whom were residents of Alun-alun village in nearby Ranuyoso district, according to CPJ sources. Police also publicly identified four additional suspects identified as Juri, Leung, Slamet, and Abdul Basyir, none of whom were immediately apprehended. It is customary for many Indonesians to use only one name.
According to public statements made on September 29 by Probolinggo Resort Police Chief Nana Sudjana, Herliyanto’s murder was directly related to the journalist’s April 9 newspaper report concerning official corruption in a bridge project in the nearby village of Rejing. Herliyanto’s report alleged that 120 million rupiah (US$13,165) was pilfered from a local infrastructure fund, CPJ sources said.
Sudjana accused Basyir, the village official who oversaw the Reijing bridge project, of both planning and participating in the murder. The police official said he drew his conclusions from the statements of the three detained witnesses. Probolinggo police said they recovered Herliyanto’s missing SIM card from a local villager and discovered that Basyir had called him in the afternoon of the day that he was killed.