Police told to stop harassment of activists
The Jakarta Post
Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) has lashed out at the National Police for questioning two of its activists about remarks that allegedly defamed a senior legal expert from Bandung-based Padjadjaran University, Romli Atmasasmita.
On Monday, ICW activists Emerson Yuntho and Adnan Topan Husodo answered a summons from the National Police's Criminal Investigation Department (Bareskrim) and underwent questioning as witnesses in the defamation case, which Romli filed with the police on May 22.
ICW lawyer Febionesta said that the police should postpone their investigation into the case until the Press Council finished its probe into the nature of the remarks from Emerson and Adnan, as well as former Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) advisor Said Zainal Abidin, which were printed by media outlets in early May.
Febionesta added he was surprised to learn that the police insisted on questioning Emerson and Adnan on Monday after the Press Council released its preliminary findings in the case, which concluded that the remarks should be subject to the Press Law.
'My clients only answered questions related to their identity and decided not to answer questions related to the content of the investigation until the Press Council makes its final ruling,' Febionesta told reporters on Monday at the National Police headquarters.
The lawyer said that his clients did not mention Romli's name in their remarks on possible candidates for a team tasked by President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo to screen a new batch of KPK commissioners.
Media outlets ran stories in May speculating that the President would nominate Romli and two legal analysts, Margarito Kamis and Chairul Huda, as possible candidates for the KPK selection team.
Eventually, Jokowi appointed nine female experts to the selection team, a move that many deemed was made to prove sceptics wrong.
'I was never formally contacted [by the government] to join the committee. How come they suddenly cornered me with slanderous remarks, like about being pro-corruption, only because I served as an expert witness for him [Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan] in his pretrial hearing?' Romli told The Jakarta Post in May, referring to the deputy National Police chief who was named by the KPK as a graft suspect following his nomination as police chief in January.
Febionesta said that Romli should have written letters to the editors of the media outlets to respond to the remarks from Emerson, Adnan and Said if he felt they had insulted him.
Romli submitted news stories published by Kompas, Tempo and The Jakarta Post as evidence to back up his claims.
The National Police have questioned journalists from the three media outlets to seek clarification on whether Emerson, Adnan and Said explicitly mentioned Romli's name in their remarks.
In the stories published in Kompas, the Post and Tempo, Adnan, Emerson and Said never explicitly mentioned Romli, Margarito or Chairul's names.
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