Indonesia court sentences former police general to death over murder plot

JAKARTA, Feb 13 (Reuters) - An Indonesian court on Monday sentenced a former police general to death for orchestrating the murder of his bodyguard, in a case that has gripped the Southeast Asian country for months.

Ferdy Sambo, an ex-inspector general and head of internal affairs with the national police whose trial began in October, appeared before a panel of three judges at a court in Jakarta.

Sambo has been "proven legally and convincingly guilty of committing the crime of participating in premeditated murder," Judge Wahyu Iman Santoso said while reading out the ruling.

Prosecutors had called for a life sentence.

Sambo's lawyer Arman Hanis told reporters his legal team will study the ruling but declined to say whether it would appeal.

Spectators in the courtroom reacted to the verdict with cheers and gasps while Sambo consulted with his legal team.

The trial had raised concerns over impunity at the top of the Indonesia's police force. Police had initially said the bodyguard, 27-year-old brigadier Nopryansyah Yosua Hutabarat, was killed in a shootout with another officer at Sambo's Jakarta residence last year.

During the trial, Sambo had said the killing was not planned and attributed it to his anger because he believed Hutabarat had raped his wife.

But the judges on Monday dismissed the claim due to a lack of evidence.

Kamaruddin Simanjuntak, a lawyer representing the victim's family told reporters he believed Sambo deserved the death penalty, while Hutabarat's mother, Rosti Simanjuntak, stood close by, clutching her son's photograph.

Reporting by Stanley Widianto and Johan Purnomo Additional reporting Fransiska Nangoy; Editing by Ed Davies, Kanupriya Kapoor

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