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Indonesia jails more elite soldiers over prison murders

In this file photo, armed police stand guard after a shooting inside the Cebongan Correctional Centre in Yogyakarta, on March 23, 2013. Those killed in the attack were in custody accused of murdering one of the soldiers' superior officers in a nightclub brawl.AFP/File

An Indonesian military tribunal on Friday handed jail terms to four special forces soldiers for involvement in a plot to storm a prison and murder four inmates in a revenge killing.

One soldier, who drove his comrades to the jail so they could launch the attack, was jailed for 15 months.

The other three, who sought to cover up the crime, were sentenced to four months and 20 days each but will be released within days as they have been behind bars since April.

It came a day after the court in Yogyakarta, on the main island of Java, handed sentences ranging from 21 months to 11 years to the eight members of the elite Kopassus unit who stormed the prison.

Those killed in the March attack on the Cebongan prison in central Java were in custody accused of murdering one of the soldiers' superior officers in a nightclub brawl.

The revenge killings sparked a public outcry and evoked dark memories of the three-decade dictatorship of Suharto who stepped down in 1998, when the army often acted with impunity.

But the case also exposed deep divisions in the young democracy, with some supporting the soldiers for acting decisively against criminals, saying it was a stark contrast to the weak civilian courts and police.

On Friday a three-judge panel at the military court found Second Sargeant Ikhmawan Suprapto, the driver, guilty of assisting in pre-meditated murder.

"He is convincingly and legitimately guilty of assisting the pre-meditated murder," presiding judge Lieutenant Colonel Joko Sasmito said.

But the 15-month sentence fell short of the 18 months sought by prosecutors. His lawyer said he would appeal the sentence.

The three others were convicted for failing to notify their superiors of the attack when they were aware of the plan.