Police defy Yudhoyono over Novel prosecution
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The National Police have defied President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s call not to prosecute Comr. Novel Baswedan, an investigator with the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).
As the police defied the President, lawmakers announced that they too would continue with their plan to amend the KPK law, something the President has also criticized.
In an address to the nation on Monday evening, Yudhoyono lambasted the police for their attempt to prosecute KPK investigator Novel for a shooting incident in 2004, which many believe is a plot to disrupt the KPK investigation into corruption at the National Police Traffic Corps (Korlantas).
The President also opposed the plan by the House of Representatives to amend Law No. 30/2002 on the antigraft body, urging lawmakers, as well as all elements of the nation, to focus on efforts to eradicate corruption.
However, National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Suhardi Alius told reporters on Tuesday that the police would continue legal proceedings against Novel when the time was appropriate.
“The President said in his speech that the timing and approach [to prosecute Novel] were not appropriate. Therefore, we will reschedule the timing and the approach,” Suhardi said at the National Police headquarters in South Jakarta.
Continuing the legal proceedings against Novel, Suhardi said, was essential because he was involved in a crime. “Once we present a case, he [Novel] must face trial,” he said.
Separately, KPK chairman Abraham Samad said that he noted the police’s insistence on prosecuting Novel, but felt assured that it would be settled in a civilized manner.
“We will of course hold a follow-up meeting [with the National Police] where we will talk about technical matters to settle the problem,” he said. Abraham said the KPK and the National Police had agreed not to take any action that would provoke unnecessary tension or nationwide protests.
In the meantime, Haris Azhar, representing Novel’s team of 22 lawyers, said his team would not accept Novel being prosecuted solely by the police. He suggested that an independent court take over the case if the police insisted on continuing the prosecution.
Lawmakers have also decided to continue with their plan to revise the law on the KPK, arguing that such a revision was necessary to strengthen the anticorruption body.
“The President is welcome to propose his suggestions [on the matter], but we have the authority to make a final decision when it comes to legislation,” said lawmaker Dimyati Natakusumah, who chairs a working committee at the House’s Legislation Body (Baleg) discussing the revision plan.
He made the statement after a meeting with leaders from House Commission III overseeing law and human rights on Tuesday.
The House has become a target of criticism for its plan to revise the KPK Law. Some revised articles limit the authority of the KPK to wiretap graft suspects.
“There are still many corruptors. Therefore we still need to revise the law in order to strengthen the KPK. We will reformulate the existing law to give more power to the antigraft body rather than reducing its authority as shown in the current draft revisions submitted by Commission III,” said Dimyati, who is also a member of House Commission III.
Meanwhile, Commission III deputy chairman Aziz Syamsuddin said that his commission refused to withdraw the draft revision currently with Baleg, saying that it would be illegal. The Golkar politician emphasized that a withdrawal was only legally possible if lawmakers agreed to drop it from the national legislation program.
Aziz challenged the government to send an official letter demanding the House drop the revision plan. “It’s all in the hands of the government and the House’s Legislation body [Baleg],” he said.