KPK’s Chandra, Bibit Arrested
Indonesia’s National Police on Thursday arrested two senior members of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) in an escalation of the ongoing legal battle between the nation’s top law enforcement bodies that has spilled over into the political arena.
Chandra M Hamzah and Bibit Samad Rianto, deputy chairmen of the KPK, are being held at National Police headquarters in South Jakarta on charges of abuse of power and extortion related to a graft investigation against fugitive businessman Anggoro Widjojo.
The men claim they are being framed by the National Police as part of a plot to weaken the powerful antigraft agency, while their lawyer denounced the arrests at “shocking.”
The arrests came a day after President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono ordered an investigation into wiretapped telephone conversations between a senior Attorney General’s Office official and other figures who allegedly cited the president’s name as supporting ongoing moves against the KPK officials.
In addition, a senior AGO official on Wednesday attempted to distance both himself and his agency from the case by suggesting the National Police drop the investigation if they didn’t have enough evidence. Instead, police took Chandra and Bibit into custody shortly after 1 p.m. on Thursday.
“Starting from [today] we will practice our right to hold them under arrest for 20 days at National Police headquarters,” Deputy Chief Detective Insp. Gen. Dikdik Mulyana told reporters. “This decision has nothing to do with outside opinion. If there are any objections, please file a pre-trial motion against us.”
Chandra and Bibit were declared suspects last month, but Dikdik said police decided to detain them because they feared the men could influence the investigation by holding news conferences to sway public opinion.
The saga involving the KPK, National Police and AGO has been front-page news and on evening television broadcasts for weeks.
Dikdik refused to discuss what evidence and witnesses the police have compiled against the KPK officials.
“We will not be vulgar and give you the details here,” he said. “Please wait until the trial.”
Critics have dismissed the abuse of power charge, which is related to the imposition and temporary lifting of a travel ban against Anggoro. They say police have no authority to investigate an internal KPK decision.
Police also notably didn’t charge Chandra and Bibit with accepting bribes, even after spending months trying to find evidence to back their claims that the duo took money from Anggoro through middleman Ari Mulyadi in exchange for dropping the corruption investigation against him.
Dikdik denied that police were attempting to weaken the KPK due to a personal feud, saying their investigation was based on testimony from former anti-corruption agency Chairman Antasari Azhar. “We’ve taken this legal action based on the former KPK chief’s testimony on May 16,” he said.
Antasari has recently recanted this testimony, saying police told him to change his statement to support their case.
Dikdik also refused comment on the widely published transcripts of the wiretapped phone conversations that appear to support claims that police hatched a plot to frame the officials.
“Please complain to us if you have the transcript records,” he said. “You ask about something that you yourself have written up in your media.”
Acting KPK commissioners declined to confirm whether the tape recordings in their possession matched the transcripts that were published in the media. Next week, the KPK is scheduled to submit at least one recording to the Constitutional Court, which has accepted a request by Chandra and Bibit for a judicial review of the KPK Law.
Taufik Basari, a lawyer for Chandra and Bibit, said his clients were unaware they were being tossed in jail until after they arrived at police headquarters to check in, as they are required to do twice a week.
The president, commenting on both the judicial review and the arrest, said on Thursday that he would respect both institutions’ actions.