Ezra Sihite, Markus Junianto Sihaloho, Rizky Amelia, Farouk Arnaz & Arientha Primanita
A Corruption Eradication Commission plan to place its detainees in a military jail has stirred fierce debate, with one senior public figure saying it reflects doubts in the competence of the police and another suggesting it harkens back to a era in the nation’s history in which the military was deeply involved in civilian matters.
The antigraft agency, known as the KPK, plans to use a military facility in Guntur, South Jakarta, to hold detainees. It comes at a time of poor relations between the KPK and the police, who traditionally arrange suspects’ detention, due to an investigation into a procurement scandal.
“Personally I disagree because it looks too political,” Gede Pasek Suardika, chairman of House of Representatives Commission III, which oversees legal matters, said on Tuesday.
Gede Pasek said the antigraft body, known as the KPK, should use the prisons owned by the police or prosecutors’ offices, adding that using the military detention facility was a step back to the past.
The lawmaker said that the reform era should minimize the role of the military. “We want the reformation to stay pure,” the Democratic Party lawmaker said.
Commission III Deputy Chairman Nasir Djamil said he did not understand why the KPK was developing its relationship with the military.
“It’s like the KPK doesn’t trust the police and the Justice and Human Rights Ministry to hold its detainees,” he said.
The Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) added that the KPK needed to persuade lawmakers to increase its budget. The KPK has previously asked Commission III to approve additional funding for a new building, but the request was rejected. “All it needs to do is make a request of us,” Nasir said.
Fellow PKS lawmaker Aboebakar Al Habsyi earlier in the week said the KPK’s action could worsen relations between the agencies. “Why not use detention facilities from the prosecutors’ offices or the police?” he asked the KPK during Monday’s House hearing.
Several lawmakers suspect that the military detention facility was being specially prepared for Insp. Gen. Djoko Susilo, the chairman of the police traffic division who has been named a suspect in a Rp 2 billion ($210,000) kickback scandal involving the procurement of driving simulators.
Djoko has refused to comply with a summons to be questioned by the antigraft body, and the military facility could be used instead of a police one to avoid conflicts of interest.
But KPK deputy chairman Busyro Muqoddas denied this was the body’s intention, saying: “We are merely borrowing space because at the KPK it is no longer possible [to accommodate more detainees].”
National Police detective unit chief Comr. Gen. Sutarman said police did not object to the KPK using the military facility. Sutarman denied that the planned recall of 20 police officers seconded to the KPK was an attempt to seek revenge for the probe into the driving simulator case, saying the timing was merely coincidental.
The antigraft body on Tuesday questioned Herry Purnomo, the director general of the Finance Ministry for budgeting, as a witness in the case of the simulators, which were procured by the Police Traffic Corps.
KPK spokesman Priharsa Nugraha said Herry was questioned regarding Djoko.
Herry was called to appear at the KPK last week but did not attend because had to be at a budget meeting. Herry said he was questioned about the budgeting process of the procurement of the simulators.
The KPK has also questioned several police officers as well as Agus Suprijanto, the Finance Ministry’s director general of treasury, over the case.
The two law enforcement agencies have long fought over which has jurisdiction to investigate the massive scandal, reported to have cost the state at least Rp 100 billion in losses.
The tension is just the latest installment in the conflict between the KPK and the police that has been dubbed the battle between cicak and buaya — gecko and crocodile.
In explaining the decision to recall the seconded officers, Sutarman told a House of Representatives inquiry on Monday: “[The recall] was because [the investigators’] terms [at the KPK] were over, that means it is illegal for them to stay [at the KPK].
“The [agency] training the investigators is the National Police and not the KPK, therefore the National Police had the right to recall them, as the investigation license was issued by us.”
The recall will likely hinder the antigraft body’s ability to investigate corruption cases, KPK spokesman Johan Budi said.
“It is disturbing [that] 20 detectives [were recalled] while the KPK is handling so many cases,” Johan said on Friday.
The detectives had been working with the KPK for a year, Johan said. Under government regulations, they could have been assigned to work with the antigraft body for four years, with the option to renew their contracts. Most of the detectives were handling more than one case, Johan said.
The National Police said on Tuesday that it had sent 14 officers, including 10 generals, to the KPK to replace the 20 investigators it was planning to pull out, but they were all rejected.
“Fourteen senior National Police officers were sent to the KPK, but none of them passed the test. Ask the KPK why [they didn’t pass the test],” said National Police Deputy Chief Comr. Gen. Nanan Sukarna.
A police officer who declined to be identified said the KPK was being unreasonable in rejecting the officers.
The generals turned down by the KPK included Ronny Frankie Sompie (supervision and investigation bureau chief), Syahrul Mama (South Sulawesi Police deputy chief), Ari Dono (criminal director), Moecgiharto (head of police school Kasespimma), Suedi Husein (Riau Police chief), Sigit Sudarmanto (former Southeast Sulawesi Police chief) and Nur Ali (antigraft director).
National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar said that the 10 generals were nominated to KPK deputies while four others were submitted to KPK investigations directors.
Boy refused to comment on the speculation that the KPK didn’t want police officers as KPK leaders.
“Please make your own judgement. One thing is for certain, we have given our best officers but they were rejected. But there’s no hard feelings,” Boy said.
National Police chief Gen. Timur Pradopo said that the police were ready to help the KPK to carry out its duty by providing investigators. “Not just 20, we’ll give the KPK as many as it needs,” Boy said.
“The investigators are all professionals. The police officers that we offered to the KPK are the best ones,” said the former Jakarta Police chief.