Special Report

General falls off high
wire; Susno drags police
into abyss

Once a beacon of integrity in the graft-ridden police force, the actions and involvement of Comr. Gen. Susno Duadji in the controversial case is now lowering further the public reputation of the police force.

Born in Pagar Alam, South Sumatra, on July 1, 1954, Susno became a media darling for his efforts to root out ingrained graft during his stint as West Java police chief between January and October 2008.

Eliminating the illegal fees for processing driver's licenses and vehicle registrations at all levels of the police force were just part of Susno's legacy in West Java.

Susno has also cracked down on police officers involved in drug trafficking and illegal logging.

"How can we clean up a dirty floor if the broom is also dirty?" Susno once famously pointed out.

Public hopes in Susno's "clean-police" policy abounded when National Police chief Gen. Bam-bang Hendarso Danuri appointed him in October last year as chief detective.

Once in the job, however, Susno began to entangle himself in a string of controversies, from the dropping of the high-profile Indover Bank case to his alleged involvement in brokering a deal between Bank Century and businessman Boedi Sampoerna to retrieve the later's US$18 million in savings stuck in legal limbo.

But Susno's defining controversy is his central role in what critics say is a blatant attempt to undermine the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).

They say Susno has since early this year dragged the police into a full-fledged war against the KPK.

"The police's sidelining of the KPK is getting more blatant after Susno takes the detective chief job," said Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) coordinator Danang Widoyoko.

Susno's apparent hatred for the antigraft body began when information was leaked by a telecommunications provider revealing the KPK had wiretapped several high-ranking police officers worried about a plan by legislators to transfer driver's license and vehicle registration issuance to the Transportation Ministry under a draft traffic bill.

The KPK also noted indications the police and the ministry were locked in a bidding war to buy the legislators' favor.

While it remains unclear whether Susno was among the officials being tapped, the ties between the police and the KPK began souring.

Susno's beef with the watchdog became personal in March after his mobile phone was reportedly wiretapped by the KPK, leading to allegations Susno had demanded a bribe from Boedi in the Century case, according to the Indonesian Anticorruption Society (MAKI) in early October.

The hostility intensified, leading to the arrest of KPK chairman Antasari Azhar in early May on charges of murdering prominent businessman Nasruddin Zulkarnaen.

Police have also accused KPK deputy chairman Chandra M. Hamzah of abuse of power in allowing Antasari to wiretap Nasruddin and others for personal reasons.

Allegations of the KPK leaders being framed were given greater credence after it was revealed Susno had met with graft fugitive Anggoro Widjojo in Singapore on July 10, despite the KPK warrant issue for Anggoro's arrest.

Anggoro is the owner of PT Masaro Radiokom, a regular telecommunications contractor for the police, the military and the intelligence agency.

Susno denied accusations he was leading a witch hunt against the KPK, saying he was simply trying to follow up on testimony from Antasari of possible bribery involving KPK officials.

Despite mounting public indignation at the police's seeming criminalization of the KPK, Susno then declared Chandra and another KPK deputy chairman, Bibit Samad Rianto, as suspects for abuse of power, bribery and extortion.

It remains unclear which of the charges police will ask prosecutors to follow up on, after several key witnesses retracted their testimonies against the KPK deputies.

One high-ranking police officer says there is a rift growing within the force over the KPK case, with one side believing it to be politically motivated, in addition to being backed by weak evidence.

"The police chief is actually fed up with the case, because it only tarnishes our image even further," he says.

"But he just can't control Susno."

Susno is known to have close ties with fellow South Sumatran Coordinating Minister for the Economy Hatta Radjasa, according to a source at the Presidential Palace.

Hatta is President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's most trusted aide after State Secretary Sudi Silalahi, and is also a confidant of First Lady Ani Yudhoyono's. Hatta has refused to comment on the issue.

Danang says Susno may have received strong backing to pursue the KPK case, regardless of the public outcry.

"Susno may have been dragged into this corrupt and politically sticky environment without being able to resist like he did in West Java," he says.

"I think he couldn't take the pressure *of being the National Police chief detective*, and preferred to play out the script already written for him."

Susno refused Friday to comment on the issues, saying only, "I don't know."

Additional reporting by Ika Krismantari

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