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Nine-Year-Old Survivor of the Attack Recounts Incident

03/29/2018 Washington D.C. (International Christian Concern) – International Christian Concern (ICC) has learned that on the morning of March 26, the body of a female prospective priest was found in Indonesia’s South Sumatra. The 24-year-old, Melindawati Zidoni, who served at the Indonesian Evangelical Christian Church (GKII) in Air Sugihan district, Ogan Komering Ilir regency, was discovered with no pants and her shirt open, allegedly raped before she was killed. Her nine-year-old companion survived the attack and recounted how the incident unfolded.

On March 25, Melindawati left her church with the child, identified only as “NZ” by the police, riding a motorbike together to a local market at 4:00 p.m. An hour later, when they returned from the trip and crossed a deserted oil palm plantation, they found their path blocked by logs.

Two masked suspects abruptly appeared and assaulted them, forcing them into the plantation, where both of them were restrained and strangled. NZ fainted and was dumped into bushes by the perpetrators who assumed NZ was dead. Melindawati was then brought to a location 100 meters away, where she was allegedly raped and strangled to death.

Police believe that the suspects might know the victims, since they covered their faces with masks and sarongs, and were seemingly familiar with the site.

South Sumatra Police Head of Public Relations Comr. Pol Supriadi said that the ongoing investigation will continue when the surviving victim recovers. “This witness is still a child, so is still vulnerable. We are waiting for NZ’s condition to recover and stabilize first,” he added.

After the police conducted a post-mortem examination, on March 27, Melindawati’s body departed from the Indonesian Evangelical Christian Church (GKII) in Palembang, to be brought back to her hometown in Nias, North Sumatra. A prayer service was held in remembrance of her.

Melindawati was scheduled to wed her fiancé in June 2019.

Nathan Siahaan, a local Christian from Palembang, told ICC, “I do not agree with actions like this… There are many factors that caused this [tragedy] to happen. I hope the government can investigate this case to find out the motive. The community also needs to provide appropriate assistance so that this does not happen again.”

Gina Goh, ICC’s Regional Manager, said, “ICC condemns the attack on Melindawati and her nine-year-old companion. We urge the authorities to investigate and arrest the perpetrators so that justice may be served. Our prayers go out to the victims’ families.”    

For interviews, please contact Olivia Miller, Communications Coordinator:[email protected]