Former Makassar mayor Ilham Arief Sirajuddin, right, is led away to detention following an interrogation at the KPK headquarters in Jakarta on Friday. (Antara Photo/Hafidz Mubarak A.)

Kalla Disapproves of KPK’s Rearrest of Makassar Ex-Mayor

JULY 11, 2015

Jakarta. Vice President Jusuf Kalla has deplored the rearrest of the former mayor of Makassar, Ilham Arief Sirajuddin, by the national antigraft commission, saying it should have respected an earlier court ruling freeing the corruption suspect.

“I’ve heard about [Ilham’s arrest] and I’m aggrieved. It’s a pity,” Kalla, who like Ilham is a South Sulawesi native, told reporters at his office in Jakarta on Friday.

He said the Corruption Eradication Commission, or KPK, should have abided by a ruling handed down by the South Jakarta District Court in May which invalidated Ilham’s suspect status and ordered him released by the KPK.

Technically, though, the KPK has respected the court ruling. Its rearrest of Ilham on Friday was the result of the same charges brought on the basis of new evidence.

The rearrest marks the first time that the KPK has resumed proceedings against a corruption suspect cleared in a pretrial ruling.

“I have to respect this decision,” Ilham told reporters as he was taken away from the KPK headquarters to be jailed at a nearby Military Police barracks, where the KPK usually holds its detainees.

“Whatever has been decided must be respected and we must follow the procedure,” Ilham added.

The KPK initially named him a suspect in May 2014 for his alleged involvement in a corruption case centered on Makassar’s municipal water company during his term in office. In May of this year, Ilham filed a pretrial motion against the KPK’s decision to charge him, which was accepted by the South Jakarta District Court. The judge argued that the decision to name Ilham a suspect was invalid because the KPK lacked the minimum of two pieces of evidence as a basis for charging him.

Despite being forced to release Ilham, the KPK resumed its investigation, eventually amassing enough evidence to charge him a second time in June. Ilham filed an identical pretrial motion to have the charges dismissed again, but the same court that freed him the last time around ruled on Thursday that there was no basis to his claim this time, clearing the way for his rearrest.

Kalla’s response to the rearrest chimes with his increasingly hostile rhetoric against the KPK.

On Tuesday, the vice president announced the imminent issuance of a presidential regulation granting regional heads who bend the rules to expedite infrastructure projects immunity from prosecution by the KPK.

He said local officials had for years been reluctant to embark on these much-needed projects because of concerns that they would fall foul of the KPK.

“What business has the KPK got opposing a presidential regulation issued by the government?” he said. “Who says it’s pro-corruption? This is pro-nation so that [development] can progress.”

The person expected to sign off on the regulation, President Joko Widodo, has never even mentioned it.

Last month, Kalla persuaded the president to drop his opposition to the submission of a bill to parliament aimed at reining in the KPK’s powers, in particular its authority to wiretap suspects’ phone calls without the need to obtain a warrant from Indonesia’s notoriously corrupt judiciary.

“J.K. basically said it was necessary [to amend the KPK law] so that government officials aren’t afraid to get things done when the KPK is around,” Husain Abdullah, a spokesman for the vice president, said on June 23.

He added that Joko was “of the same mind” as Kalla on the issue of amending the KPK law. “Both of them feel it’s necessary. The president accepted the explanation, according to J.K.,” Husain said.