Rizky Amelia & Farouk Arnaz
Dozens of police officers were reportedly dispatched to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) headquarters in South Jakarta on Friday night in an attempt to arrest two police investigators working with the KPK who have refused to return to the police force.
The two investigators, Novel Baswedan and Yuri Siahaan, have been caught up in an ongoing spat between the two law enforcement agencies. A number of police officers also went to Novel’s residence in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta, on Friday to inquire as to how he purchased the house, according to KPK deputy chief Bambang Widjojanto.
“They tried to break into [the KPK office]… We’ve reported this to KPK chief [Abraham Samad],” Bambang said in a briefing to the press in Jakarta on Saturday morning following the incident.
Novel and Yuri, according to Bambang, are among five of 20 police investigators on loan to the KPK who have defied the National Police’s order to return to the force. That mandate from police was part of escalating tensions with the KPK after the antigraft body named several police officials as suspects in a driving simulator procurement corruption case.
Novel and Yuri are in fact among the KPK investigators handling the simulator case, Bambang added, with Novel serving as deputy head of the task force assigned to the probe.
“Comr. Novel is part of the simulator case task force, and he’s also involved in the investigation of some other cases. Novel is one of KPK’s best investigators,” Bambang said.
Before the arrest attempt at about midnight on Friday, National Police deputy chief Comr. Gen. Nanan Soekarna had said earlier in the day that police would detain the five defiant officers.
The late-night fracas also took place several hours after the KPK had finished questioning Insp. Gen. Djoko Susilo, the highest ranking police official implicated in the driving simulator graft. Djoko was head of the National Police’s Traffic Corps when the alleged procurement mark-up took place last year. He most recently served as the National Police Academy chief before being removed from that position due to his status as a suspect.
Bambang said both Novel and Yuri are now under the KPK’s protection.
“KPK is right now protecting everyone who works for the KPK.”
He said the police tried to arrest Novel by re-opening an assault case in which he was implicated while serving as an official with the Bengkulu municipal police in 2004.
On Friday night, the chief detective of the Bengkulu provincial police, Sr. Comr. Dedy Rianto, brought a letter containing an arrest order for Novel in the case, which led to the death of a suspected swiftlet nest thief.
Bambang said that not only did the letter lack an accompanying court order, but the case was also settled in 2004, at which time a subordinate of Novel was found to have committed the crime.
“Novel was not the perpetrator. But he took responsibility for what his subordinate had done. He was harshly reprimanded for that.”
“The case was already tried at the Ethics Code Honorary Assembly. It was settled in 2004. We’ve concluded this is part of attempts to criminalize some KPK members,” Bambang said, added that the KPK had formed a special team to provide legal assistance to Novel.
The deputy chairman also said members of the National Police’s anti-terrorism unit, Densus 88, were involved in the failed attempt to arrest Novel.
“They used Densus’s help in the attempts to break into Novel’s house, as well as those of other investigators [on loan to the KPK],” Bambang said.
The National Police, however, pleaded ignorance and denied involvement in the Friday night action.
National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Suhardi Alius also said Novel was not among the five investigators that police had threatened to take back forcibly.
“We really have no idea. This is purely the act of the Bengkulu Police chief detective, who directly coordinated with the Jakarta Police and then came to the KPK office. It is not a National Police provost who came to the KPK,” Suhardi said on Saturday.
Presidential spokesman Julian Aldrin Pasha, meanwhile, said the palace had learned of the situation and questioned National Police chief Gen. Timur Pradopo about it.
Echoing Suhardi, Julian said Timur had no knowledge of the incident. Julian added that the coordinating minister for the political, legal and security affairs, Djoko Suyanto, had ordered that the police officers be withdrawn from their positions outside KPK headquarters as soon as he was made aware of the issue.
“Not all of them immediately went, but in the end they all left the KPK office,” Julian said, as quoted by the Indonesian news portal tempo.co.