JAKARTA: A friend of Indonesian serial rapist Reynhard Sinaga, who attacked more than 190 men in Britain, has expressed disbelief at his actions, saying that she did not think he was capable of such crimes.
A woman who studied at the University of Indonesia at around the same time as Reynhard Sinaga told CNA that she never noticed anything out of the ordinary in his social media posts.
“Never in a million years would I have suspected that he was capable of committing such evil crimes,” said the woman who asked not to be identified.
Even the lecturers were shocked, she said, as they all remembered him as a smart and friendly student.
Sinaga’s appearance started to change after relocating to England, she added.
She observed that he became more flamboyant and more into fashion. He also started wearing coloured lip gloss and shaped his eyebrows.
Sinaga, 36, even posted on social media that he had always felt a little different growing up, and moving to England and being away from his family was liberating for his sexuality, she recounted.
READ: Indonesian student Reynhard Sinaga went unnoticed for more than 2 years in UK rapes of 190 men
He was sentenced to life imprisonment for 159 counts of sexual offences against 48 men. There are about 70 victims who have yet to be identified.
Investigation teams found evidence linking him to drugging and sexually assaulting more than 190 victims, the Greater Manchester Police said.
Sinaga was born in the city of Jambi, Indonesia in 1983 but spent most of his childhood in Depok, in the southern outskirts of Jakarta.
He obtained a bachelor’s degree in architecture from the University of Indonesia in 2006 before moving to England a year later to study urban planning at the University of Manchester.
He went on to gain three degrees there before embarking on a doctorate in human geography at the University of Leeds - travelling there from Manchester when required.
UNIVERSITY OF INDONESIA CONDEMNS SINAGA'S CRIMES
Dr Rifelly Dewi Astuti, the spokesperson for University of Indonesia said in a statement on Tuesday (Jan 7) that the university condemned Sinaga's crimes. The statement described them as "savage acts which go against law and humanity."
"We also would like to express our sympathy for what had happened to the victims," the statement added.
Media reports said Sinaga is the eldest of four siblings and comes from a rich and pious Catholic family.
According to British media reports, Sinaga's father had several successful businesses in a number of fields, but the family’s wealth mainly came from the palm oil sector.
The family is said to be residing in the Pancoran Mas subdistrict in Depok, West Java, about one-and-a-half hours away from Jakarta city centre.
DEPOK RESIDENTS SHOCKED TO LEARN OF CASE
When CNA visited the neighbourhood on Tuesday afternoon, residents said a mansion next to a convention hall was the Sinaga residence. The compound was quiet and devoid of activity.
When approached, Mr Max Soedira, 73, the community unit chief who handles administrative issues in the area, said: “Yes, the Sinaga family lives on Dahlia Street. We have the data in their family card (family identification card)".
He also said that the convention hall was built by the Sinaga family.
A resident who only wanted to be known as Ms Andra said: “I don’t know them personally, but I know the family, they live in that big house."
“I was shocked to learn about the case. Who would’ve imagined?” she added.
Mr Richard Leander, a food stall owner, said he only found out about the case on Tuesday morning.
“People here have been talking about it,” he said.
Sinaga’s family wealth meant that he rarely worked. He worked for a period at a bar in Manchester's Gay Village, the area where he spent much of his time socialising. He was also a regular at a local church.
Media reports said Sinaga would wait for intoxicated men outside nightclubs and bars near his flat, then approach them with the offer of more drinks or a place to sleep.
The man then lured victims into his flat then drugging them until they passed out before attacking them.
Most of the victims were undergraduates in their late teens or early 20s.
He was caught in June 2017, when one of his victims regained consciousness while he was being assaulted. The victim fought him off and called the police.
The Crown Prosecution Service said detectives discovered 3.29 terabytes of graphic material of the sexual assaults equivalent to 250 DVDs or 300,000 photos from his phone.
Editor’s Note: Quotes from an interviewee in a previous version of this article have been removed.