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State of emergency

Publication Date : 09-08-2012


Indonesia has witnessed with a mixture of awe and confusion the tug-of-war between the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and the police as they conduct parallel investigations of the 200 billion rupiah (US$21.2 million) equipment procurement scandal involving the National Police Traffic Corps.

Despite all legal the arguments, evidence and testimony supporting the KPK's handling of the scandal, the generals at National Police headquarters have insisted on conducting their own investigation.

To make matters worse and even more complicated, some have questioned or challenged the legitimacy and authority of the commission to conduct its investigation of police corruption. The naysayers have apparently deterred the President, who has been given the constitutional authority to resolve such high-profile state problems, from taking action in the latest round of the "police vs KPK" struggle.

The police and the commission have been at loggerheads on handling the case, which involves kickbacks allegedly paid to then National Police Traffic Corps chief Insp. Gen. Djoko Susilo to award contracts for driving simulators.

Djoko Susilo, who was named a suspect in the case by the KPK last week, has been removed from his position as Police Academy governor, although he has yet to be detained or questioned.

Detectives from the National Police Criminal Investigations Division later advised the Attorney General's Office (AGO) that they had launched their own investigation, naming five people as suspects and detaining four of them last week: The Traffic Corps' deputy chief, Brig. Gen. Didik Purnomo; the officer in charge of the procurement, Adj. Sr. Comr. Teddy Rismawan; the procurement's financial officer, Comr. Legimo; and the head of the company that won the contract, Citra Mandiri Metalindo director Budi Susanto.

According to the Corruption Eradication Commission Law, the KPK is authorised under certain conditions to take over corruption investigations from the police or the AGO.

The KPK's right to pre-empt the police's investigation is buttressed by the chronology of the scandal: The KPK began its investigation of the scandal on Jan. 20; Police Criminal Investigations Division launched its own probe on April 26, more than four months later.

Apparently, the National Police have been able to stonewall the KPK, rallying behind a "brown line" of loyalty to fellow officers and relying on their law-enforcement powers under Article 30 of the 1945 Constitution to counter the KPK’s legal authority to supersede other agencies as the sole investigator of the case.

As the investigation into the scandal devolved into a literal standoff last week, KPK chief Abraham Samad, police detectives and National Police chief Gen. Timur Pradopo eventually agreed on a joint police-KPK investigation on Aug. 1 – a compromise that according to some critics would only weaken the anti-corruption commission's role as the leading institution in the country's fight against corruption.

Others said that the deal would likely denigrate the KPK and ensure that the high-profile investigation would be destined to fail. The standoff has effectively made the investigation of the scandal into a national emergency. It will require an immediate initiative from President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, as the direct superior of the National Police, to settle the issue beyond doubt.

Leaving the dispute unresolved while two law-enforcement institutions slug it out will only leave Yudhoyono's pledge to fight corruption hanging in the balance.


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