The Jakarta Post
The National Police have made the headlines again, unfortunately not for upholding the law but for allegedly letting fugitive Djoko S. Tjandra evade justice. Although only three generals have been implicated, with the police spokesperson saying that at least one acted on their “own initiative”, it has dealt a major blow to the image of the entire force.
Despite internal reforms, the National Police continue to be perceived as one of the most corrupt institutions in the country. From low-ranking officers who demand small bribes from traffic rule offenders to generals who have reportedly amassed huge fortunes beyond their stations, there have been numerous instances that have tarnished the image of the police in the eyes of the public.
Last month, they interrogated a man in North Maluku for posting a popular joke on Facebook from late former president Abdurrahman “Gus Dur” Wahid, who said people could only trust polisi tidur (speed bumps), patung polisi (police statues) and Hoegeng, a police chief in the late 1960s known for his integrity.
The latest scandal plaguing the National Police could further exacerbate the public’s lack of trust, unless the police launch a thorough investigation and let the public know the whole truth. It was a lack of transparency that deprived the police of an opportunity to restore public confidence in the probe into the acid attack on Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) investigator Novel Baswedan.
To contain the damage, National Police chief Gen. Idham Azis has removed the three police generals from their posts for their alleged roles in allowing graft convict and fugitive Djoko to travel freely within the country.
One of the generals, Brig. Gen. Prasetyo Utomo, was dismissed as the head of the Civil Servant Investigator Supervisory and Coordination Bureau at the Criminal Investigation Department (Bareskrim). He is now facing an internal investigation for allegedly signing a travel letter on June 18, which businessman Djoko used to fly from Jakarta to the West Kalimantan capital of Pontianak.
Former National Central Bureau (NCB)-Interpol Indonesia secretary Brig. Gen. Nugroho Wibowo, meanwhile, is said to have removed the red notice status for Djoko, allowing the fugitive to return to and leave Indonesia. Nugroho’s boss, Insp. Gen. Napoleon Bonaparte, lost his job as the National Police’s international relations division head for failing to supervise his staff.
Djoko appeared at the South Grogol subdistrict administration office to secure an e-ID card he needed to file a request for a case review with the South Jakarta District Court on June 8.
Djoko is challenging his sentence of two years’ imprisonment and Rp 546 billion (US$37 million) in restitution handed down by the Supreme Court in 2009 for his role in the Bank Bali corruption case in 1998. On Monday, the Supreme Court delayed hearing Djoko’s motion for the third time in as many weeks, because of his absence.
A criminal investigation into whoever was involved in helping the fugitive, and his arrest, will at least restore the police’s sense of pride.