Abraham Samad, chief of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), has been named a suspect in two separate criminal cases, in a move many see as retaliation against the antigraft agency. (Antara Photo/Yusran Uccang)

More Doubts Are Cast Over Jokowi’s Promise to Fight Corruption


FEBRUARY 18, 2015

Abraham Samad, chairman of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), has been named a suspect in two separate criminal cases, in a move many see as retaliation against the antigraft agency. (Antara Photo/Sigid Kurniawan)

Jakarta. President Joko Widodo’s commitment to fighting corruption is being questioned after the nation’s antigraft czar was named a suspect in two separate criminal cases, in a move many see as retaliation against the highly respected Corruption Eradication Commission, or KPK.

“The KPK is being destroyed. Corruptors have successfully slaughtered the KPK,” said antigraft activist Uchok Sky Khadafi of the Indonesian Forum for Budget Transparency (Fitra).

Uchok was responding to a decision by the National Police on Tuesday to charge KPK chief Abraham Samad for allegedly helping a prominent graft convict get a reduced sentence last year in exchange for political backing from the convict’s political party to support Abraham’s supposed ambition to become vice president.

In a separate case, the South Sulawesi Police also charged Abraham for document forgery to help a woman, Feriyani Lim, obtain a passport in 2007.

Abraham is the second KPK commissioner charged by the police following the antigraft body’s naming of Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan, — Joko’s sole pick for National Police chief — a bribery suspect last month.

Police charged Bambang Widjojanto, Abraham’s deputy, earlier with compelling a witness to commit perjury during a 2010 election dispute hearing in which he represented one of the candidates.

Two other KPK commissioners are also under police investigation. KPK deputy chairman Adnan Pandu Praja is accused of fraudulently acquiring shares in a timber company while advising it during an ownership dispute in 2006; while deputy chairman Zulkarnain is accused of receiving bribes when he was chief prosecutor in East Java in 2009.

The complainant in the latter case is the former provincial council speaker who Zulkarnain successfully prosecuted and jailed for four years.

By law, Abraham and Bambang will have to be suspended from active duty, leaving the KPK — which has successfully jailed ministers, lawmakers, party leaders, governors and law enforcers — powerless.

“This is the bitter fruit enjoyed by the Indonesian people, so early under Jokowi-JK’s reign,” Fitra coordinator Uchok said, referring to the president and Vice President Jusuf Kalla. “The president should do something to save the KPK.”

The president has been mostly quiet about the alleged systematic targeting of KPK leaders, putting into question his commitment to fighting rampant corruption in Indonesia, as he pledged to do during his election campaign.

Hundreds of cases

Last year, there were 629 corruption cases with 1,328 graft suspects and a total state losses of Rp 5.29 trillion ($414 million), Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) told reporters on Tuesday, but warned that the figure was only the tip of the iceberg.

Joko continues to show signs of support for Budi, who served as a security aide to former President Megawati Soekarnoputri, who is the chairwoman of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and Joko’s chief patron. Joko has only delayed Budi’s inauguration despite public demand to have his nomination canceled.

The South Jakarta District Court on Monday ruled that Budi’s suspect status was invalid, leaving Joko with few excuses not to inaugurate the police general.

With the last hurdle cleared for Budi to become the country’s top cop, the KPK could expect to face massive retaliation from the police, ICW researcher Agus Sunaryanto warned.

“Proceeding with Budi’s inauguration would be the same as closing down the KPK,” he said. “It’s time for Joko to prove ... his commitment to fighting corruption.”

Insp. Gen. Budi Waseso, the chief of the National Police’s Criminal Investigation Unit (Bareskrim), hinted that he was out to destroy the KPK, saying that all the leaders of the antigraft agency stood to be declared suspects.

Nursyahbani Katjasungkana, who is the attorney for KPK chairman Abraham Samad, shows to reporters a letter of summons for her client, at KPK’s headquarters in Jakarta on Feb. 17, 2015. Abraham will report to South Sulawesi Police on Feb. 20, 2015 after being named a suspect in a case of alleged forgery of documents. (Antara Photo/Sigid Kurniawan)

More KPK investigators

On Tuesday, Waseso revealed that police were also gunning for 21 KPK investigators on suspicion of illegal gun possession.

They were originally police investigators assigned to the KPK, but they did not return their official firearms when they joined the antigraft body permanently.

“This is not an administrative violation. We suspect there are criminal violations as well and the perpetrators could be charged [criminally],” Waseso told the Jakarta Globe.

When asked why police were making a case out of this today only, instead of the moment they joined the KPK, Waseso said they were acting based on a fresh public complaint.

The same excuse was also used for the charges against the four KPK leaders, whose cases date back up to 10 years.

Waseso is also investigating the firearm carried by Abraham, a gift from Waseso’s predecessor Suhardi Alius, despite National Police deputy chief Comr. Gen. Badrodin Haiti already having cleared the gift as legal.

Veteran PDI-P lawmaker Pramono Anung said there must not be any ulterior motives behind the police’s decision to go after KPK leaders and its investigators, saying that the move had already caused increasing tensions between the two state agencies and that it exacerbates an already heated political climate.

“There better not be any hidden motives, because the political climate is already bad as it is,” he said.

Democratic Party lawmaker Ruhut Sitompul urged the president to issue an emergency regulation in lieu of law, or perppu, to handle a possible leadership void inside the KPK.

“At the very least, [Joko] must expedite the vetting process for a new batch of KPK commissioners. The president must issue a perppu so this can be done quickly,” he said.

The current KPK commissioners will only conclude their terms of service at the end of the year. However, other lawmakers were quick to demand Abraham’s resignation, a far cry from when Budi Gunawan was named a suspect.

“The KPK law requires commissioners to resign temporarily if they are named as suspects in a case,” said Fadli Zon, deputy speaker of the House of Representatives. “The president then should issue a decree and take the next step.”

Fadli argued that Abraham’s status as a suspect would disturb the work of the national antigraft agency.

Forty lawyers

Nursjahbani Katjasungkana, deputy director of the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), said there were at least 40 senior lawyers, including herself, who have agreed to represent Abraham.

The same legal team also represents KPK deputy Bambang.

Abraham “has already given us the mandate,” she said. “The case [against Abraham] is not complicated but this is a part of a process to politicize and criminalize KPK leaders. [In Bambang’s case] it also has to do with the criminalization of [his previous role] as an advocate.”

Nursjahbani said her clients would fully cooperate with the investigation to set an example of how law enforcers should

behave, in contrast to police officers, who snubbed the KPK’s summonses when the antigraft agency was investigating Budi Gunawan’s case.

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