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Jakarta Post

Major police cover-up alarms in Labora case

  • Margareth S. Aritonang and Yuliasri Perdani

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Mon, May 20, 2013   /  10:10 am

Antigraft and police watchdogs suspect that the sudden arrest by the National Police of Papua policeman Adj. First Insp. Labora Sitorus was part of plot to protect higher ranking officers who could be dragged into the mire of a major graft case.

'€œIt'€™s inconceivable that LS [Labora Sitorus] acted alone for five years. There have been reports of illegal logging and fuel smuggling that might involve members of the police in Papua, but it has all been ignored.

'€œIt'€™s impossible for members of the police to be involved in this kind of thing unless they have the support of their superiors,'€ Neta S. Pane, chairman of the Indonesian Police Watch told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

Labora was detained for holding suspicious bank accounts containing more than Rp 1 trillion (US$102 million), allegedly the proceeds of illegal logging and fuel smuggling.

The arrest took place soon after he reported to the National Police Commission (Kompolnas) at its office in Kebayoran Baru, South Jakarta, on Saturday.

Kompolnas commissioner M. Nasser suspected that the arrest of Labora was the result of machinations within the corps.

Nasser said that Labora was a pawn in a conflict between high-ranking officers who have been engaged in illegal businesses for time immemorial.

'€œThis is only a business competition. There some officers who are fighting for the business interests of others,'€ he said as quoted by kompas.com.

Earlier, National Police headquarters said it would press charges against Labora for involvement in illegal logging and fuel smuggling. He is suspected of being part of the illicit practices allegedly committed PT Seno Adi Wijaya and
PT Rotua.

In March, the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (PPATK) filed a report with National Police chief Gen. Timur Pradopo stating that Labora had been linked to bank transactions totaling Rp 1 trillion between 2007 and 2012.

Neta said that prosecution of cases involving Labora, and other graft cases in Papua should involve the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).

Unless the KPK is involved, the public will see a repeat of cases like the acquittal of Papua'€™s Police Comr. Marthen Renouw.

Renouw was charged in 2006 for taking a $120,000 bribes to protect illegal loggers but was acquitted by the Jayapura Court.

'€œThis case of MR [Marthen Renouw] shows that a transparent legal process in crimes involving the police, particularly in the regions, requires external intervention. We don'€™t want the same to happen to LS,'€ Neta said.

National Police headquarters denied that Labora had been used by his superiors to launder money and insisted that he was acting alone.

National Police Spokesperson Brig. Gen. Boy Rafli Amar said Labora was the only member of the police implicated in the case.

Boy however said that '€œthe police will move against any other officers who could have an involvement with his case.'€

He also said that the investigation of Labora would be handled by the Papua Police with assistance from National Police headquarters, raising further concern that a major cover-up was underway.

Emerson Yuntho from the Indonesian Corruption Watch said that once the Papua police got a hold of the Labora case, it would most likely be swept under the carpet.

'€œIt is likely that he will be acquitted if his case is handled in Papua,'€ Emerson said.

Even if Labora is finally prosecuted he will be a sacrificial lamb for his superiors. '€œWe are afraid that the police will sacrifice Labora to save colleagues or bosses who might be involved,'€ Emerson said.

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