Doctored picture shared in false posts that suspect in Indonesia murder case was 'released'

  • Published on June 13, 2024 at 09:52
  • Updated on June 14, 2024 at 03:13
  • 4 min read
  • By AFP Indonesia
The lawyer of an Indonesian man recently arrested for his role in a high-profile double murder case told AFP her client remained in custody as of June 12, 2024, refuting false posts repeatedly shared on social media. The posts claimed to share a picture of Pegi Setiawan's release but the image had been manipulated and was in fact published in a news report about an unrelated case.

The false claim was shared on SnackVideo on May 26, 2024.

The video in the post -- viewed 98,000 times -- featured an image where a man's face had been circled in red. He is shown holding a document while appearing to stand next to a police officer and several other people. 

"Police made a wrongful arrest. Finally, fake Egi released by the police once again," read Indonesian-language text overlaid at both the top and bottom of the video, using Pegi's nickname.

Screenshot of the false video, taken on May 30, 2024

The false claim surfaced after Indonesian police arrested Pegi on May 21, 2024 for his alleged role in the rape and murder of Vina Dewi Arsita and the killing of her boyfriend Muhammad Rizky eight years ago (archived link).

Authorities said Pegi was among the initial list of 11 people responsible for the crime in West Java's Cirebon city, for which eight people had already been convicted (archived link).

He has denied the allegation.

Public interest in the case was renewed after a film based on the twin murders was released on May 8 (archived link).

Similar false claims were also shared on SnackVideo, Facebook and YouTube.

Still in custody

Sugianti Iriani -- a lawyer on Pegi's defence team -- told AFP on June 12 he has not been released contrary to the posts.

"Even we can't get the suspension of detention," she told said. "Egi is still in custody until who knows when."

Indonesian outlet iNews reported his family visited him on June 5 at the West Java police department where he was held in custody -- weeks after videos of his claimed release surfaced (archived here).

There is no bail system in Indonesia but judges, investigators and prosecutors can grant the request for the suspension of detention, which could lead to a suspect's release (archived link).

There have been no official reports as of June 12 that Pegi had been released.

Manipulated image

Moreover, the image shared in the posts is unrelated and had been manipulated to insert individuals involved in the double murder case.

The original picture appeared in a news report published over a year before Pegi was arrested.

Reverse image searches on Google found a version of the picture was published by the Indonesian news agencAntaranews on February 13, 2023 (archived here).

The report was about a nurse who was accused of cutting off a baby's finger by accident. It said the man whose face had been circled in the doctored image was actually the father of the baby.

Below is a screenshot comparison of the image in the video with the false claim (left) and the photo published by Antaranews (right):

Screenshot comparison of the image in the video with the false claim (left) and the photo published by Antaranews

Furthermore, the picture was altered to insert the faces of Hotman Paris Hutapea and Putri Maya Rumanti -- lawyers for the murder victims -- and West Java police spokesman Jules Abraham Abast (archived links here, here and here).

Below are screenshot comparisons of the doctored image (left) and the pictures of the individuals that had been digitally added to it (right):

Screenshot comparison of altered image (left) with the 2023 clip of Hotman Paris Hutapea
Screenshot comparison of the altered image and the original photos of the victims' lawyers and spokesman of the West Java police force

AFP has previously debunked misinformation swirling around the case here.

This story was updated to correct a typo before the final subheading.
June 14, 2024 This story was updated to correct a typo before the final subheading.

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