LPSK to protect whistle

The newly founded Witness Protection Program Institute (LPSK) has begun talks with the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) on reducing punishments for whistle blowers in corruption cases.

"Witness protection includes, among others, identity protection, legal protection and penalty reductions," Abdul Haris Semendawai, head of the LPSK, said after meeting with KPK chief Antasari Ashar on Wednesday.

Abdul Haris said the 2006 law on witness protection stipulated that persons implicated in criminal cases can have their punishments reduced if they provide law enforcement agencies with genuine evidence.

He said the LPSK, which was inaugurated last August, needed to raise awareness of the law and coordinate with law enforcement agencies, including the KPK, which has benefited from the testimonies of implicated witnesses in many corruption cases.

He said the LPSK and the KPK had begun a preliminary discussion on the witness protection program.

The witness protection law was passed two years ago in response to fears witnesses to violent crimes were reluctant to step forward in fear of being mistreated by corrupt law enforcers that had received bribes from defendants.

Abdul said the LPSK would determine in what circumstances a witness or victim should be protected and oversee the protection of witnesses in conjunction with the KPK.

Corruption watchdogs recently urged the LPSK to protect Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politician Agus Condro Prayitno, who publicly admitted receiving Rp 500 million in payment for voting for Miranda Goeltom in the senior BI deputy governor election in 2004.

Agus eventually was dismissed by the party.

The KPK questioned him in connection with the case, but has not proceeded with investigations, citing a lack of solid evidence.

East Kalimantan legislature member Hamsyah MD went to the KPK last year to report a corruption case worth Rp 2 billion involving all 27 local counselors, including himself.

He admitted he had accepted Rp 74.9 million and handed himself into authorities. The KPK refused to follow up the case, again citing a lack of evidence.

In the past, whistle blowers in corruption cases have been made to pay for their testimonies.

One lawyer was convicted of defamation after he accused a court justice of having accepted bribes from his client.

The justice sued the lawyer after the Supreme Court's internal affairs had cleared the justice of all charges.

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