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(An Experience in the DVI Operation in Kuta Bali Bomb Blast)

Dr.Eddy Saparwoko, Sp.JP,MM,DFM ( Brigadier Gen Pol)
The Chief of the Indonesian DVI Team

1. Terror: The Tragedy of Humanity.

Terrorisms resulted in impacts ranging from relatively insignificant and limited up till very extensive impacts, they could be horrifying such as the destruction of belongings, environment and even human lives.
Within the early years of this millennia, to be précised, its first 2 years, that is, 2001 and 2002, there have been 2 devastating terror tragedies in the history of humanity, which were the WTC tragedy and the Bali Bomb Blasts.
In those two cases there are several similarities in identification aspects: both can be classified as Open Mass Disasters, which nobody would know specifically how many people were there at that specific time, and even worse, it was almost impossible to detect precisely the exact numbers of the victims. This is different from an airplane crash, which is known as a Close Mass Disaster.
In the case of Bali Bomb Blasts there were many victims in various conditions: there were a total number of 325 wounded victims ranging from mildly wounded to those who were severely wounded, and even worse there were approximately 202 deaths. This tragedy shocked the Indonesian people because it was the first time for Indonesia that such disaster of this scale happened. With limited capability of coping with such open mass disaster, all parties acted at once and as soon as possible to deal with the situation, these actions had not been well coordinated at first.
Assistance came from all over Indonesia, other parts of Bali itself, neighbouring provinces, as well as from the Central Government (Jakarta). Not only that, later on helps extended by countries that had close relationship with Indonesia and followed by other countries, as this was clearly a national tragedy as well as an international tragedy.

2. The Identification Operations.

a.   Racing against time, holding hands with precision.
The whole operation of the Indonesian DVI Team for Kuta Bali Bomb Blast Case was initiated on October 13, 2002, up till February 26, 2003. The operation was divided into several stages, that was:

·   Phase I started from October 13 to October 16, 2002,
·   Phase II started from October 17 to October 20, 2002
·   Phase III started from October 21 to October 31, 2002, and
·   Phase IV started from November 1, 2002, up till 26 February 2003.

The procedures were carried out in the Forensic Medicine Installation of Sanglah Hospital, Denpasar, everyday, started from 08:00 s.d. 18:00 Central Indonesian Time.
The entire proceedings were truly exhaustive, however, all of the team members fully aware of the essential roles of DVI in identifying the victims of the bomb blast terror, which are:

1)    Identification or finding a person's identity is related to human rights.
2)    Very closely connected to criminal investigation aspect either for the sake of the victim himself/ herself, or for the investigation procedures in solving the crime.
3)    Connected to Civil Legal aspect, among others are: insurance, inheritance, marital etc.)

The overall operation of the DVI Team for Kuta Bali Bomb Blast Case was divided into 4 stages.

The whole identification procedures carried out using DVI Interpol procedures and forms which are recognized internationally.

b.   Strongly united in the join operation.

The Identification Operation of the victims of the Kuta Bali Bomb Blast Case by the Indonesian DVI Team was carried out by the Pusdokkes Polri (the Indonesian Police Centre for Medical and Health Service) Team and joined by various related local institutions, from the Indonesian National Police, the Indonesian Ministry of Health, Forensic Departments/ Dentistry Faculties of Public and Private Universities, local hospitals, and volunteers from NGOs and the community.
Beside the Indonesian institutions, there were several DVI Teams, institutions and volunteers from other countries that joined the operation and worked side by side in order to provide assistance, all these teams were coordinated by the Chief of the Indonesian DVI Team. The foreign countries experts started to work on 17 October 2002 ranging from 2 days to 4 weeks, they came from: Australia, Hong Kong SAR, Sweden, Finland, Japan, Taiwan, The Netherlands, etc.

c. Work Flow

The Join DVI Team was divided into 5 Sub Teams in carrying out the complicated procedures, that were: Ante Mortem Sub Team, Post Mortem Sub Team, Matching/ Reconciliation Sub Team, Administration of the Body Release Sub Team, and Supporting Sub Team.

Identification were performed using the international standard methods (incl. Interpol Guide) which classified as: Simple Method and Scientific Method.

3. Reconciliation Board.

Rules were set up in determining the requirements to meet for the body to be declared as identified. Results from the identification procedures should then be presented in the Reconciliation Meeting Room, attended by Experts Examiners from each method, chaired by The Chief of the Indonesian DVI Team, to be discussed up till unanimously accord reached by the board, only then the victim could be declared as being identified. After this all of the expert examiners signed the Death Certificate form available, and then it should be approved by The Chief of the Indonesian DVI Team, only after all these procedures done then the body could be released to the family or the authorized person.
These long and exhaustive process could not always be understood by the families, therefore, explanation should be given about the risk/problems that might occur in the future if there were mistakes or inaccuracies.

4. Conclusion of the whole operation.

a. The Indonesian DVI Team for Kuta Bali Bomb Blast Case had been established and consisted of personnel from Indonesia and assisted by teams from close related countries.

b. The whole DVI team worked amazingly solid and focused to the main concern, which was the accuracy of the identification and it was showed in the matching process in the reconciliation meetings.

c. The supporting teams' assistance in slowing down decomposition process and environment sanitation was invaluable.

d. The result of the identification procedures up till 26 February 2003 was199 victims identified, 3 bodies haven't been identified, these means, the percentage of the identified bodies is 98,51 %, and the highest number of the victims were of Australian Nationality.

e. Autopsies had been performed to the victims in order to make Visum et Repertum for further judicial process of suspects.

5. Obstacles faced by the Team:

The long identification process is against the local Balinese tradition/ belief, the identification procedures needed accuracy so that it could not be forced to be done in a shorter time, the lack of funding and facilities,.the decomposition process of the bodies effect to the environment and difficulties to slow down the process as there was lack of proper cold storage, and the difficulties of ante mortem data collecting.

Recent developments of various branch of science will bring a lot of progress in the technology used by identification field, and such development will not be distributed evenly to every part of the world in a short time, while mass disasters will never choose the place, time, nor victims (it can not be predicted accurately).
In anticipating these problems it is the responsibility of every expert to always develop his/ her knowledge, including the knowledge on the management of mass DVI, and to distribute it to every corner of his/her country and even all over the world.


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Last modified: 08/19/2003