Djoko Soegiarto Tjandra attends his graft trial in the South Jakarta District Court on Feb. 28, 2000. (Antara Photo)

From Red Notice Removal to Covid-19 Free Certificate -- How a Graft Fugitive is Treated So Generously


JULY 16, 2020

Jakarta. For more than a decade, Indonesian law enforcement agencies have been desperately trying to bring graft fugitive Djoko Tjandra to justice, but the sought-after man has actually returned to challenge his conviction and traveled between cities under their nose without any slightest attempt to arrest him.

The 68-year-old businessman was put on the Interpol wanted list in 2009, the year he was convicted of corruption in the debt settlement case between Bank Bali and the Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency. 

Djoko fled the country to live in self-imposed exile in Papua New Guinea a day before the Supreme Court ruling was issued.

His arrival in June, or maybe earlier, was known by at least a high-ranking police officer at the Criminal Investigation Agency, or Bareskrim.


Brig. Gen. Prasetijo Utomo was detained by the National Police Internal Affairs Division late Wednesday for issuing a recommendation letter stating that Djoko is a ‘consultant’ who intends to make business trips between 19 and 22 June. 

Police Consultant
As the officer was being interrogated, new details emerged about the privilege Djoko had accepted from the law enforcement agency.

The fugitive was in possession of a Covid-19 free certificate issued by the National Police Medical and Health Department, or Pusdokkes, an officer familiar with the case told the Jakarta Globe.

The government has required citizens arriving from a foreign country to produce Covid-19 free certificate before they can travel on domestic flights in the wake of the pandemic.

The requirement was then made compulsory to all air passengers in early May. 

The health certificate refers to Djoko as “a consultant for the Supervisory Bureau of the Civil Servant Investigators”, a unit at the Bareskrim that oversees investigators other than police officers, such as tax, capital market or environment investigators.

Prasetijo headed the bureau until he was stripped off his duties on Tuesday.

Djoko’s given address on the certificate is Jalan Trunojoyo number 3, exactly where the National Police headquarters is located.

“They came in one package -- the recommendation letter and the Covid-19 free certificate -- so that he [Djoko] could travel by plane,” said the officer, who asked to remain anonymous.

The recommendation letter is a requirement from the Transportation Ministry to limit air passengers to essential travelers during the pandemic.

Police spokesman Argo didn’t respond when asked about the Covid-19 free certificate.

"It Hurts Me"
The scandal broke late last month when Attorney General Sanitiar Burhanuddin revealed that Djoko had attended the South Jakarta District Court to challenge his conviction on June 8.

“According to the information, which really hurts my feeling, Djoko has been here for around three months but we knew it only recently,” Burhanuddin said in a hearing with the House of Representatives’ Legal Commission on June 29.

The Attorney General’s Office requested the National Police to issue a red notice with the Interpol against Djoko in 2009. 

It was learned that Djoko has been removed from the Interpol wanted list since 2014, something the top prosecutor wasn’t aware of until recently. The property mogul reportedly has travelled freely to many countries without the global police alert.

“We have been hunting down Djoko Thandra for years, and I heard people have met with him in Malaysia and Singapore,” Burhanuddin said.

On Wednesday, he said he had no clue why Djoko was no longer on the Interpol wanted list.

The answer may again lead to the disgraced officer.

Prasetijo served at the police international relations and transnational crimes division, which oversees the National Central Bureau Interpol (NCB Interpol) in Jakarta, prior to his assignment to Bareskrim. 

But it remains unclear if he also has helped Djoko with the red notice removal.

Valid ID Card
Djoko could return to the country and travel between Jakarta and his home province West Kalimantan because he has a valid ID card, which he obtained in June with the help of a subdistrict head in South Jakarta.

It emerged on Monday that the Jakarta official, identified as Asep Subahan, met with a lawyer for Djoko, Anita Kolopaking, in May, discussing Djoko’s request for an ID card.

On June 8, it was reported that the official accompanied Djoko and his entourage at the Civil Administrative Office in Kebayoran Lama to get the ID card printed. Asep himself was present in the room when the ID card was being processed and he handed it to Djoko upon completion, according to an investigation by the Jakarta Inspectorate General.

Asep has been removed from his post, but it’s not clear if he is slapped with criminal charges.

Using the new ID card, Djoko applied for an Indonesian passport at the North Jakarta Immigration Office on June 22 and he managed to get one the next day without any problem. The passport was revoked on June 30 after the scandal broke.

Director General of Immigration Jhoni Ginting said the official who met Djoko was “too young to recognize” that the applicant was a graft convict.

“He is a new employee, a fresh graduate at 20 or 23 years of age. He didn’t know Djoko who came early in the morning,” Jhoni said in the Monday’s hearing with lawmakers, only to get harsh criticism.

“Stop making excuses with that young employee. He is your employee and you run the system,” Democratic Party senior member Benny Kabur Harman said.

The immigration removed Djoko from its watched list on May 13, just a week before his lawyer approached the Jakarta official for an ID card.

It’s simply a story of a man beating the country’s whole justice system.

Lengthy Trial
Djoko, then president director of property firm Era Giat Prima, was sentenced to two years in jail and ordered to repay Rp 546 billion ($37 million) in state losses related to the Bank Bali scandal in 2009.

For his part, he has the right to feel frustrated by the Indonesian justice system, after getting multiple contrasting verdicts in a lengthy trial that can be traced back a decade earlier.

He became suspect in October 1999 over allegation that he took illegal fees from debt settlement between Bank Bali and three troubled banks under the supervision of the now-defunct Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency. 

His trial began in February 2000 but the judge issued a preliminary ruling dismissing the criminal case and that it should be tried by a civil court.

The Jakarta High Court ordered a retrial after examining the case, only to result in another acquittal -- again concerning the issue of civil case over criminal case. These series of events have occurred over the course of just seven months.

An appeal by prosecutors was turned down by the Supreme Court in June 2001.

In October 2008, the AGO filed a judicial review into the verdict and the Supreme Court agreed to overturn the acquittal and sentenced Djoko to two years in jail in June 2009.