Police discovered the body of Maraden, 55, in a ditch behind a warehouse belonging to palm grower PT Sei Alih Berombang (SAB) on Wednesday, October 30. Maratua, 42, was found in the same area the next day. The two had stab wounds on their heads, arms, backs, chests, and stomachs.
Burhan Nasution, a friend of Maraden and Maratua reported them missing on October 30. He had lent them his motorcycle the night before, which they used to visit the SAB plantation, but the two never returned.
Six people have been questioned but no suspect named, according to local police chief Agus Darojat.
After the media company they worked for shut down in 2017, the two became freelance journalists and activists who were openly critical of illegal palm oil operations. They had recently become known for their activism in land dispute issues. Prior to their deaths, Maraden and Maratua were working on a campaign to convince the government to allow locals to work on disputed land.
Many cases of violence against journalists in Indonesia go unsolved, according to the Independent Journalists Alliance, which has reported at least two dozen cases this year alone. Indonesia is ranked 124th out of 180 countries on the 2019 World Press Freedom Index published by Reporters Without Borders.