The Saga Ends for Indonesia’s Corruption Fighters

The long-running saga involving suspended antigraft officials Bibit Samad Rianto and Chandra M Hamzah is expected to finally end today, with prosecutors saying they will drop charges against the two while the President’s Office drafts a decree to reinstate them. The Attorney General’s Office, finally bowing to public pressure, announced on Monday that it had decided to drop the controversial case “to bring harmony between law agencies.” “The psychological circumstances have made the case unworthy of a trial and it would be morally harmful rather than beneficial if we brought the case to court,” Marwan Effendy, the deputy attorney general for special crimes, said of the reasons behind the decision. A letter formally halting the prosecution will be issued by the head of the South Jakarta Prosecutor’s Office. Both Chandra and Bibit, who in September were charged with abuse of power and extortion, are expected to receive copies at 4 p.m. today, Marwan said. “Under the articles of the anti-corruption law, the charges against Chandra Hamzah and Bibit Samad Rianto were valid …. However, we consider that the two suspects did not realize the consequences of their actions and that what they did was regarded as a normal procedure as it was commonly practiced by their predecessors,” Marwan said without elaborating. “The public believes that the two suspects should not be held accountable because it is their duty to fight for a breakthrough against corruption,” Marwan said. He added that the decision “was also meant to maintain close coordination and harmony between law-enforcement agencies in our common task to combat corruption.” Meanwhile, the government has drafted a presidential decree to restore Bibit and Chandra to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), but will only formalize it once the AGO has issued the letter halting their prosecution, said Denny Indrayana, the president’s legal affairs adviser. Indrayana said that since the KPK deputies were suspended by a presidential decree, another was needed to reinstate them and to honorably discharge Waluyo and Mas Ahmad Santosa, who had been appointed to temporarily replace them. “Once the case is dropped, [they] can return to the KPK,” he added. Bibit told the Jakarta Globe he was relieved it was all over. “I am just grateful that the case has finally ended,” Bibit said. “If there is anything we can learn from my case, it is that the fight against corruption is far from over. We have seen how corrupt officials can fabricate a case.” Another lesson, he said, was the need to set up strong procedural mechanisms for KPK members to guide them in their work. “We shall examine all of our procedures so we can do our jobs confidently and to ensure there won’t be any more attempts to undermine the KPK,” he said. Fadjroel Rachman, a senior activist from the Anticorruption Civil Society Coalition (Kompak), welcomed the return of Bibit and Chandra to the KPK as “a victory for the people who have long seen irregularities in the case.” He also said the case against businessman Anggodo Widjojo, at the core of the KPK scandal should not be dropped.

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