Indonesian Investigation Condemns Police and Prosecutors

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono will meet the country’s attorney general and National Police chief today following the release of a damning report by a special fact-finding team about the prosecution of two senior officials from the Corruption Eradication Commission. While stopping short of saying the police and state prosecutors had fabricated extortion and abuse of power charges against Bibit Samad Rianto and Chandra M Hamzah, the team concluded that the investigation into the suspended deputies of the antigraft commission, also known as the KPK, was “forced” and lacked evidence to support it. The eight-person team, appointed by Yudhoyono amid public outrage on Nov. 2 to get to the bottom of the KPK investigation scandal, recommended that the charges against the commissioners be dropped. The Team of Eight report also urged the president to conduct institutional reforms in the National Police and Attorney General’s Office and punish any officials found to be involved in fabricating charges against the commissioners. The team also recommended that an investigation continue into whether Susno Duadji, the former National Police chief of detectives, had illegally intervened in the PT Bank Century bailout scandal to help businessman Boedi Sampoerna recover frozen funds. There are allegations, as yet unproven, that Susno launched the investigation against Bibit and Chandra after the KPK began investigating him for possible corruption involving the Bank Century case. The team personally submitted its 31-page report to Yudhoyono on Tuesday, but the nation, which has been riveted by the growing scandal for weeks, will have to wait until next week to see how the president reacts. “It is hoped that by Monday, at the latest, either in the morning or by noon, the president will be able to directly explain the steps to be taken for the good of our country,” Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Djoko Suyanto said. The scandal has overshadowed the early part of Yudhoyono’s second term, exposing widespread corruption within the country’s law enforcement agencies and threatening to derail the president’s antigraft program, analysts said. The report states that the initial police investigation was warranted based on the testimonies of former KPK Chairman Antasari Azhar and businessman Ary Muladi that said the KPK officials had taken bribes to drop a graft probe against fugitive businessman Anggoro Widjojo. “As the case developed, the police could not find any evidence of bribery or blackmail, however the police seemed to insist on an allegation of abuse of authority by Chandra and Bibit,” team spokesman Anies Baswedan said after meeting the president. Hikmahanto Juwana, another team member, said it “came to the conclusion that the facts were not strong enough, leading to the impression that the evidence and the charges had been contrived.” The report said police investigators and AGO prosecutors told the team they were pressured by their superiors to pursue the case against the KPK officials. The team recommended a campaign to eradicate the middlemen who worked illegally within law enforcement institutions to broker payoffs between suspects and law enforcers. Legal reform, Yudhoyono said after meeting the team at the State Palace, was a priority of his administration. “Even though I want to immediately respond to [the recommendations], there are internal processes on the part of the government that we have to abide by,” he said. Bambang Widjojanto, a lawyer for Bibit and Chandra, said there was no excuse for the National Police and the AGO to pursue the case further. The police have resubmitted charges against Chandra to the AGO three times already, while the AGO returned the charges against Bibit on Monday to police, asking they be improved.

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