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Activists Condemn SBYâ??s Inaction As Police Continue to Target KPK

Sumber: THEJAKARTAGLOBE.COM | Tgl terbit: Senin, 08 Oktober 2012

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's slow response to a number of police actions against the Corruption Eradication Commission has drawn nationwide outcry, with activists accusing him of giving his blessing to weaken the antigraft body.

Dozens of police officers on Friday stormed the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) office in an attempt to arrest Comr. Novel Baswedan, a leading investigator with the KPK, for murdering a fisherman when he was still a police detective in Bengkulu eight years ago.

The police surrounded the KPK's office until late on Friday, insisting that they had to bring the investigator with them, but KPK leaders refused to hand him over, bringing the two institutions to the brink of a clash.

Hundreds of antigraft activists quickly came to the KPK's office and made a "human barricade" to protect the institution from police attempts to forcefully arrest Novel. "It was a very tense situation because a clash could open anytime," an activist said.

The police withdrew just before midnight following an alleged direct order from the Presidential Office.

The incident was the culmination of a series of conflicts over the last several weeks following the KPK's investigation into a scandal surrounding a Rp 198 billion ($21 million) police simulator project that involved several police generals.

Knowing that more generals would be implicated if the KPK continued its investigation into the case, police fought back against the KPK, including its decision to withdraw 30 police investigators it had lent to the antigraft body.

"The president is direct boss of the police. If the president wants, he can just order the police to stop all this resistance. However, SBY's decision to stay uninvolved sends a signal that he actually gives his blessing to everything that the police do," said Usman Hamid of Cicak (Love Indonesia, Love the Antigraft Movement) on Sunday, referring to Yudhoyono by his nickname.

Usman was one of thousands of people across the country who took to the streets on Sunday to protest police actions against the KPK.

At the Hotel Indonesia traffic circle, thousands of people condemned the police actions and SBY's inaction by shouting "Save KPK!", "Where is SBY?" and "Save Novel!"

"The president must fire the police chief," said Usman, who is also the coordinator of the Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras).

Hamdi Muluk, a professor of psychology at the University of Indonesia, also expressed his disappointment in SBY's seeming reluctance to solve the conflict.

"This problem is much more urgent than the case involving Ariel," he said, referring to the quick response by SBY on the sex tape case implicating popular singer Nazriel "Ariel" Irham last year.

"But he moved faster in Ariel's case. I think the president has mistakenly read what the public wants," Hamdi said.

However, in a brief press conference on Sunday, State Secretary Sudi Silalahi angrily blamed the media and civil society groups for deliberately pitting the police and the KPK and exaggerating the situation. At the same time he defended SBY's silence.

"The president is following the case closely and has taken action. He does not need to report to the NGOs on everything he does," he said, referring to nongovernmental organizations.

According to a press release by the Presidential Office, Yudhoyono summoned National Police Chief Gen. Timur Pradopo at the height of the tension on Friday evening.

On Saturday, he held a cabinet meeting to discuss the issue and ordered Timur to talk with the KPK on Sunday.

However, the meeting could not be held on Sunday because all of the KPK's leaders were outside the city, according to the statement.

Instead, the KPK will meet the police chief today, the release read.

"We need to remember that the KPK is not under the president. So, the president can only order the police chief with the hope that the KPK can cooperate to solve the problem for the sake of effective corruption eradication efforts," Sudi said.

He said that the president would deliver his speech on the issue this evening or Tuesday after the meeting between the KPK and the police chief.

It appears unlikely, however, that the president's actions will satisfy critics.

Both the KPK chairman Abraham Samad and the deputy chairman Bambang Widjojanto said on Friday that the police move to arrest Novel was part of the ongoing police attempts to criminalize the KPK investigators.

Police, however, said that they have strong evidence to arrest Novel for murder.

"It's a crime. It has nothing to do with other issues," said Comr. Gen. Sutarman, the National Police detective unit chief.



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