Did Citibank's Harsh Interrogation Tactics Kill an Indonesian Man?

“Wish me luck,” Irzen Octa told his wife before a March 28 meeting with debt collectors from Citibank,“I may be signing a new contract and can settle our debts.” But Octa's fate was not so bright. According to the Washington Post, instead of debt-free, Octa ended-up dead.

The Indonesian businessman was down on his luck. Like many Americans, he was facing foreclosure, owing Citibank $5,700 in credit card debt. But Citibank's brutal interrogation tactics may have to have taken more than just the "ramshackle two-story home" they were after.
“He went into that room in good faith and good health — and ended up dead,” said Esi Ronaldi, who is suing Citibank for $350 million in damages, according to the Washington Post.

Citibank asserts that he "could have died from natural causes," but five people were arrested on charges of "group violence" and "mistreatment resulting in death." Strangely, reports as to the cause of death point to "asphyxiation," "strike from a blunt instrument" or "brain hemorrhage."
Mysteriously, none of those arrested worked for Citibank. And while Citibank denies responsibility, they are already working hard at damage control. Says New York Magazine:

Citibank has brought all its debt collection in-house and written off its dead client’s debts. It also offered Octa’s family a monthly stipend, life insurance for his widow and a promise to cover his two daughters’ education. The family, pushing for a bigger payout in court, rejected the offer.

AlterNet / By Kristen Gwynne

Posted at August 17, 2011, 10:18am

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