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Jakarta Post

AGO inferno

  • Editorial Board

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, August 25, 2020   /   08:12 am
AGO inferno Ruins: The husk of the main building in the Attorney General’s Office compound smolders in South Jakarta on Sunday after it was gutted by fire on Saturday evening. Authorities are investigating the cause of the blaze. (JP/Wendra Ajistyatama)

It is simply common sense – rather than a conspiracy theory – that has prompted the public to link the fire that engulfed the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) building in South Jakarta over the weekend to high-profile corruption cases it is investigating.

Besides, we have seen this kind of incident before, not once but several times. The Bank Indonesia arson in 1997 and the blaze that gutted the Government Comptroller Agency (BPKP) in 2000 are believed to be the most glaring attempts to foil criminal investigation. The two fires destroyed many documents related to the misuse of Bank Indonesia liquidity support (BLBI) extended to ailing banks in the Asian financial crisis.

Saturday’s fire gutted floors three to six of the AGO building, where the departments of intelligence, human resources, legal and planning were located. Also affected was the office of prosecutor Pinangki Sirna Malasari, whom the AGO has named a suspect for allegedly accepting US$500,000 in bribes and meeting several times with tycoon Djoko Soegiarto Tjandra.

The bribery case involving Pinangki has come under public scrutiny not only because of her alleged role in the recent scandalous return of fugitive graft convict Djoko to the country, but also due to the magnitude of the case.

Tempo weekly reported that Pinangki held talks with Djoko in Kuala Lumpur last year to offer him help to secure a Supreme Court acquittal. Pinangki reportedly demanded US$100 million for the service, but Djoko only agreed to pay one tenth of the amount. According to the report, Pinangki let Attorney General ST Burhanuddin know about her meeting with Djoko, including through a video call after Djoko agreed to pay $10 million.

It was Pinangki, according to the report, who proposed her friend, lawyer Anita Kolopaking, to represent him. Police have named Anita a suspect and detained her in the case.

The AGO investigation into Pinangki has raised many eyebrows due to its lack of transparency. The Prosecutor Commission, for one, was not given access to Pinangki.

Burhanuddin and Coordinating Political, Legal and Security Affairs Minister Mahfud MD were quick to deny that the fire had destroyed evidence related to Pinangki’s case and other high-profile graft cases the AGO is investigating, particularly the one involving state insurer PT Jiwasraya, which the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) said had caused a record Rp 16.81 trillion in state losses.

Burhanuddin, although not ruling out the possibility of arson as a cause of the fire, said all case dossiers and evidence were safe as they were stored in two separate buildings. The fire, therefore, would not impact AGO investigations and activities, said Burhanuddin.

Although BI had copies of the documents demolished in the fires in 1997 and 2000, the AGO faced difficulties in investigating misappropriation of BLBI funds. To this day the mega case leaves many questions unanswered.

While waiting for the police to complete their probe into what caused the weekend fire, the AGO will face a daunting challenge to prove the incident will not affect its enforcement of the law. The high-profile bribery case involving one of its prosecutors will test its commitment to the fight against corruption.