Jakarta. The Indonesian Police expressed appreciation to their Malaysian counterpart on Thursday, following the arrest of graft fugitive Djoko Tjandra in Kuala Lumpur hours earlier.
Djoko, 68, arrived at Halim Perdanakusuma Airport in East Jakarta handcuffed and already in an orange detainee vest on Thursday evening, ending the 11-year manhunt.
“We departed this afternoon to make the arrest and graft convict Djoko Tjandra is now in our custody thanks to good cooperation between the Criminal Investigation Agency and the Royal Malaysia Police,” agency head Comr. Gen. Listyo Sigit Prabowo told reporters late Thursday.
“We thank our partners at the Royal Malaysia Police for their assistance in the arrest and repatriation of Djoko Tjandra,” he added.
Listyo said President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo was directly involved in the manhunt by ordering National Police Chief General Idham Aziz to search and arrest the fugitive wherever he was.
The president’s order came amid reports that Djoko had actually returned and traveled in Indonesia last month with the help from several high-ranking police officers and immigration officials so that he could evade arrest.
The scandal “has stirred public uproar for weeks” and prompted the president to step in, Listyo said.
“Based on the president’s order, the police chief formed a special team and appointed me -- as the Bareskrim [Criminal Investigation Agency] head -- to take charge, supported by my colleagues from the Divpropam [Division of Profession and Internal Security] and the Bareskrim,” Listyo said.
“We began the search for Djoko Tjandra and got credible information that he was in Kuala Lumpur. The police chief followed the tipoff with police-to-police approach, which we commonly did in the past especially with our partners at the Royal Malaysia Police,” he added.
The arrest went smoothly and Djoko was immediately flown to Indonesia, he said.
Listyo also vowed to continue internal investigation against fellow officers who allegedly had facilitated Djoko’s return in June, but stopped short of signaling probe into the role of immigration officials.
“The public are certainly demanding answer over what have really happened. The National Police are committed to continuing the investigation and we will do so transparently and objectively to defend the pride and the name of the institution,” he said.
Three police generals were demoted and one of them was slapped with criminal charges for helping the fugitive evade arrest and providing documents that enabled Djoko to travel freely while in Indonesia.
Now after Djoko was in custody, chief security minister Mahfud M.D. called for the country’s main law enforcement agencies and the Justice Ministry to take stern measures against their own people who facilitated Djoko’s return between May and June.
Police investigation revealed that Djoko entered Indonesia in May to renew his ID card and obtain Indonesian passport. He also went to the South Jakarta District Court to register a challenge against his 2009 graft conviction.
Djoko managed to evade arrest at the immigration entry because he had been discreetly removed from the Interpol wanted persons since 2014, but was revealed only recently.
“What we need to do now is internal measures in the National Police, the Attorney General’s Office or the Justice Ministry if immigration officials have played a role,” Mahfud said in a video message late Thursday.
“I will continue coordinating internal steps to make sure that measures are taken against all officials involved in the scandal,” he said.
“I will do everything within my power as Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs to make that happen.”
Mahfud also said the operation to arrest Djoko in the neighboring country has been planned since 10 days ago.
He said Listyo came to him with information that Djoko stayed in Malaysia and a plan had been made to make the arrest at a proper time.
Mahfud said only he, the president and the police chief had been told about the plan and they kept it confidential until the arrest was made.
“I’m so grateful that Djoko Tjandra was finally arrested but the news didn’t really come to my surprise. I already knew about the operation on July 20,” he said.
Djoko was convicted of corruption in 2009 and sentenced to two years in prison in a case emanating from the debt settlement between Bank Bali and the now-defunct Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency (IBRA).
Joko’s company Era Giat Prima was entrusted by Bank Bali to collect debts at three ailing banks being supervised by the IBRA. The company managed to earn Rp 546 billion ($37 million) from the collection but prosecutors suspected a foul play and launched a graft investigation. Part of the fund allegedly had been transferred to Djoko’s personal accounts.
He first stood trial in 2000 and won the case at the district court and the appeal court. However, the Supreme Court overturned his acquittal in 2009 after a case review requested by prosecutors.
Djoko has already left the country when the ruling was delivered in June 2009.