Witness Protection Agency Suspends Two for Alleged Involvement in KPK Affair

The Witness and Victim Protection Agency has suspended two of its members over their alleged involvement in an apparent conspiracy to undermine the Corruption Eradication Commission. “Both Myra Diarsi and Ketut Sudiharsa have been suspended pending deliberations over their futures in an internal probe. The matter of whether they will be asked to resign will also be discussed,” said Abdul Haris Semendawai, the chairman of the agency, also known as the LPSK. He added that they were following the recommendation of the so-called Team of Eight, a fact-finding team established by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to investigate an extortion scandal involving Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) deputies Chandra M Hamzah and Bibit Samad Rianto. The two deputies have been accused by police of abuse of power and extortion, though the chief of the Constitutional Court on Wednesday voiced his opinion that the case was fabricated. At least four telephone conversations between Ketut and businessman Anggodo Widjojo were wiretapped by the KPK. The recordings suggest that Ketut had tried to arrange for the LPSK, although unsuccessfully, to protect Anggodo’s brother, graft fugitive Anggoro Widjojo, from the KPK. Myra Diarsi was suspended for allegedly requesting Ketut to provide protection for Anggoro and his colleagues. Semendawai said on Thursday that the LPSK had set up an ad hoc ethics committee tasked with conducting an investigation into Ketut’s and Myra Diarsi’s actions. It will rule in about two weeks whether the two were guilty of ethics violations in the case. The LPSK had earlier stated that it would follow the Team of Eight’s recommendations, which included institutional reforms and the transfer of personnel in the National Police, Attorney General’s Office, KPK, and the LPSK. Separately, Zainal Abidin, from the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), said on Friday the LPSK should continue its normal work despite the suspensions, because he believed the agency could help reform the judiciary. “Witnesses or victims of the judicial mafia should receive protection, and this comes from the LPSK,” Zainal said. “A person like [alleged case broker] Ary Muladi must be protected because he is a key state witness who can unravel the schemes conjured up by the judicial mafia in so many cases. If we want to eradicate the judicial mafia, we must urge the LPSK to continue to provide protection for state witnesses.” Zainal was referring to the fact that Anggodo had asked for the LPSK’s help in protecting Ary Muladi, the middleman in the scandal involving the KPK deputies, and Putranevo, chief director of Anggoro’s company, PT Masaro Radiokom. Anggoro fled the country after the KPK raided Masaro’s offices for its alleged involvement in an illegal procurement case at the Ministry of Forestry in 2006. While on the run, Anggoro made claims that he had bribed several KPK officials. Semendawai said Anggodo had initially asked for police protection for the two men, and the police had suggested that Anggodo contact the LPSK. LPSK member Myra Diarsi then allegedly asked Ketut to provide the two with protection. He said Ketut had admitted to being present when Anggodo came in to request protection from the LPSK and that the request had been officially accepted by Myra. In the wiretapped conversations, Ketut repeatedly expressed his concern to Anggodo that their conversations could be bugged, because there were “communication interruptions,” or strange clicking noises, during the conversations and Anggodo’s voice sounded “small.” “We can’t protect you if we are bugged. Protection involves privacy,” Ketut said, noting that protection demanded that anyone outside the LPSK should not know anything about the agency’s clients.

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