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Jakarta Post

Aceh shocked by arrest of sharia police chief

  • Hotli Simanjuntak

    The Jakarta Post

Banda Aceh   /   Sat, November 23, 2013   /  10:35 am

The public in Aceh is reeling following the arrest of the sharia police chief for alleged corruption, while the provincial administration has promised harsh action should the chief be found guilty.

Banda Aceh Police officers detained Aceh Public Order and Sharia Police chief Khalidin Lhoong on Thursday.

Khalidin allegedly used a proportion of the salaries of non-permanent public order and sharia police officers to pay for their sportswear and urine-test kits, as opposed to requesting extra funds from the provincial administration.

'€œWe will impose strict punishment and even fire him if the allegations are proven in court,'€ said Edrian, head of the legal bureau at the Aceh administration.

'€œWe are awaiting the legal process, but what the sharia police chief has done cannot be categorized as corruption as there have been no state losses.'€

Edrian said that should the court hand Khalidin a jail sentence of more than four years, he would be fired immediately.

Meanwhile, an Aceh-based anticorruption campaigner, Askalani, said he appreciated the police'€™s efforts in uncovering graft committed by provincial officials.

'€œCorruption is not limited to causing state losses; it also includes abuse of power by public officials,'€ he said. '€œMaking use of employees'€™ salaries can be categorized as corruption.'€

He said he hoped Khalidin'€™s arrest and detention would act as a deterrent for public officials not to commit graft to enrich themselves.

Khalidin allegedly misappropriated Rp 650 million (US$55,555) by cutting the salaries of some 1,000 public order and sharia police officers.

'€œAfter conducting an investigation, we named him a suspect and have detained him for further investigation,'€ Banda Aceh Police detectives chief Comr. Erlin Tangjaya said.

Erlin said the payroll cuts were not justified under any circumstances, but especially not for the procurement of sportswear or to conduct urine tests, as funds were allocated from the provincial budget to cover such costs.

Police have seized Rp 215 million of the Rp 650 million misappropriated by Khalidin.

Aceh'€™s law enforcement agency is tasked with two separate duties. Public order officers enforce bylaws enacted by the provincial administration, while the sharia police uphold Islamic laws.

The police have also detained the agency'€™s head of administrative affairs, Teuku Armansyah, over the same case. He is alleged to have worked in cahoots with Khalidin to commit the graft.

'€œWe will hold them [Teuku and Khalidin] for around 20 days for further investigation,'€ said Erlin.

However, Khalidin denied he had committed corruption, claiming he had not made personal use of a single penny from the money used to pay for the urine-test kits and the sportswear.

'€œI swear to God I did not commit corruption or take the money for my personal use,'€ he said.

The police named Khalidin a suspect in September but could not immediately arrest him as he was performing the haj pilgrimage.

Khalidin added that the haj would be proved worthless if he was lying. '€œWhat I did was for the good of all personnel so that they could be declared drug-free by taking the urine tests,'€ he said.

He added that all permanent and non-permanent sharia police officers had been told about the salary cuts, which were intended to pay not only for the urine tests and sportswear but also to buy a printer to produce the officers'€™ identity cards.

Aceh is the only province in Indonesia that has sharia police, tasked to oversee Islamic law, which was introduced in 2003.

Meanwhile, Saifuddin Bantasyam, a sociologist and legal practitioner at Syiah Kuala University, said national law would be applied in this case rather than Islamic law, which stipulates that a thief '€” if proved guilty '€” would have a hand cut off.

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