Gina sutan aswar foto

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Indonesian authorities announced Thursday they will not return a man to Los Angeles to face charges that he murdered three people and stashed their bodies in trunks held at a Northridge storage locker.

Harnoko Dewantono "has to be tried in Indonesia," said Susilo Sudarman, Indonesia's coordinating minister for political and security affairs.

Los Angeles police detectives who flew to Indonesia last month said Dewantono confessed to killing Gina Sutan Aswar, 30, and his own brother, Eri Tri Harto Darmawan, 26. They said Dewantono, arrested in Jakarta last month for passport forgery, claimed his brother killed Suresh Mirchandani, 39.

All three decaying bodies were found in a Northridge storage locker on Aug. 10. Police believe the victims were killed at different times between 1991 and 1993.

The case has become notorious in Indonesia, where Dewantono, 30, is believed to be the first Indonesian accused of killing an American citizen. But Mirchandani's sister, Pushpa Advani, of Canyon Country, fears leaving her brother's alleged killer's fate in the hands of what she said is Indonesia's corrupt justice system.

"I don't want him to get away with something by paying someone off," she said. "I would like to see part of it (the trial in Indonesia). . . . Just to make sure that things are carried out."

Advani said LAPD detectives have reassured her that the Indonesian system can be trusted to do justice, particularly because the case has attracted so much attention.

And she said she hopes Indonesia's criminal justice system, with its lesser emphasis on defendants' rights, will treat Dewantono in the manner she says he deserves. "I really don't care how he's treated there," she said. "I hope they do beat him" to get him to confess.

The U. S. Embassy had requested Dewantono be sent back to Los Angeles to be tried for the murders, but Indonesia rejected the request. The United States and Indonesia have no extradition treaty.

"It is natural and necessary for the Indonesian government to protect its citizens," Sudarman said. "We are trying to obtain the use of evidences found in the United States."

Times staff writer Nicholas Riccardi contributed to this story.

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