Authorities in Indonesia arrested YouTuber Ferdian Paleka and two of his friends who played a cruel prank on two homeless trans women by handing them boxes of rotten food and filming their humiliation amid the coronavirus pandemic that has left millions around the world depending on the generosity of food banks and good samaritans to get by.
The viral video, which made the rounds last week, shows Ferdian and his two accomplices packing bricks and rotten bean sprouts inside instant noodle boxes before giving them away to unsuspecting trans women.
The video also shows Paleka and his friends driving and using transphobic slurs, reportedly saying “[Trans people] do not obey the government… so, don’t speak badly of us. We only want to help the government.”
“The men were visibly delighted after having pulled the prank, with Ferdian going some steps further to antagonize the public by uploading a fake apology video and then promising to upload a real apology video if he gained 30 thousand followers,” reports Coconuts Jakarta.
Paleka, who had dyed his hair black and shaved his mustache, was finally arrested Friday morning following almost a week of pursuit, police say.
“The suspects are being taken to the Special Crimes Division at the West Java Police,” Bandung Police Crime Investigation Unit Head Galih Indragiri told reporters after his arrest. Police previously arrested two of Ferdian’s accomplices who also appeared in the video, one of whom was handed over to the authorities by his mother.
Sani, a 39-year-old trans woman targeted by Paleka’s cruel prank, told reporters she didn’t expect someone to be so thoughtless during the month of Ramadan or in the middle of the coronavirus epidemic.
A 56-year-old trans woman named Dani said she approached Paleka’s car when he rolled up because she saw him distributing food to other people. When she opened the noodle box, she realized it was filled with concrete.
Paleka also distributed boxes filled with garbage to a group of hungry, homeless children. The pranksters filmed themselves laughing each time they saw the disappointment and humiliation in their victims’ faces.
Instagram user Muhammad Gariz Luis Ma’luf shared a video of Paleka’s arrest.
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Paleka was charged with online defamation under the Information and Electronic Transactions Act (UU ITE), which carries a maximum four-year prison sentence, as well as deliberately breaking the law and bringing harm to others, which is punishable by up to 12 years in prison under the same law.
In Paleka’s fake apology video, he laughed as he said, “I personally would like to apologize for what I’ve done … not.” Following his arrest, a policeman from the West Java Police posted a video on Instagram of someone mocking Ferdian, saying, “You will soon be freed … not.”
Before his arrest, angry social media followers stormed his property. Paleka had already fled when police arrived.
Kediaman nya Ferdian Paleka malam ini digruduk warga dan beberapa orang yang sengaja datang ke Kavling Bojong Koneng Indah, Kec. Baleendah. Petugas kepolisian sudah berada di TKP. Kabarnya doi ga ada di rumah alias kabur. Tunggu update selanjutnya. pic.twitter.com/PzYXhOvGRn
— IG @kabar.jabar (@twitkabarjabar) May 3, 2020