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Jakarta Post

KPK leadership under attack

  • Kharishar Kahfi and Marguerite Afra Sapiie

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, January 10, 2019   /   11:09 am
KPK leadership under attack Terror threat: Suwarni, a neighbor, points to the scorched wall of the home of Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) deputy chairman Laode M Syarif in Kalibata, South Jakarta, on Wednesday. The house is believed to have been the target of a Molotov cocktail attack in the early hours of Wednesday morning. The home of KPK chairman Agus Rahardjo was subject to a similar attack at the same time in Bekasi, West Java. (The Jakarta Post/Dhoni Setiawan )

Public representatives and prominent citizens have declared their support for the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), following what appear to have been bomb attacks against the commission’s leaders on Wednesday.

The National Police have been urged to investigate the incidents thoroughly to prevent any further threats to KPK personnel that could potentially weaken the country’s efforts to combat corruption.

At around 5:30 a.m. on Wednesday, unknown assailants left a suspicious package at the private residence of KPK chairman Agus Rahardjo in Bekasi, West Java. 

A police bomb squad officer discovered a black bag hanging on the house’s fence, containing materials resembling the components of a bomb, such as a detonator, cables, nails and a pipe. The bomb squad immediately made safe the suspect device.

At the same time, the remains of two Molotov cocktails were found at KPK deputy chairman Laode Muhammad Syarif’s residence in Kalibata, South Jakarta.

“Two bottles filled with a combustible substance were thrown at the house. We found one intact, while the other one broke [and exploded],” Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Argo Yuwono told journalists on Wednesday.

The KPK deputy chairman told police he observed suspicious people near his house at around 1 a.m. through security cameras. Meanwhile, one of Laode’s neighbors said she heard glass breaking at around the same time.

The incidents quickly caught the attention of the public, many of whom condemned what they perceived as a threat to the KPK’s leadership.

Indonesia’s largest Muslim organization Nahdlatul Ulama was among the first to voice its view on the attacks, with its legal division head Robikin Emhas calling them “a damnable action”.

“I’m sure the KPK won’t back down. Don’t be afraid! Never hesitate when fighting corruption. The people stand with the KPK,” he said in a statement.

Robikin was echoed by Antasari Azhar, the antigraft body’s first chairman who had to step down from his position after he was convicted for 18 years for masterminding a murder in 2010. He was released from prison in 2017 after getting clemency from President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, who cited irregularities in the case.

“The KPK won’t flinch even in the face of terror. It won’t back down,” Antasari told the media.

The Presidential Palace did not issue an official statement on the case, pending the police’s 

“We cannot speculate. We’ll wait for the National Police’s investigation. I personally don’t know the details about this apparent terrorist act, but of course any threat against law enforcers, in this case KPK leaders, has no place in our democratic nation,” presidential spokesperson Johan Budi, who once served as KPK spokesperson, said.

The threat did not deter Agus and Laode from resuming their work, as they immediately returned to their office after providing statements to police investigators.

“After the incident, we were discussing measures to anticipate possible security risks. We will increase the security measures when necessary,” KPK spokesperson Febri Diansyah said.

Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) coordinator Adnan Topan Husodo said Wednesday’s attacks might have been inspired by previous cases involving KPK personnel.

He referred to an attack on senior investigator Novel Baswedan in April 2017, when unidentified men threw acid in his face causing serious injuries to his eyes. The police have never named a suspect in the case despite a prolonged investigation. 

“If these attacks are left unsolved, there might be more attacks that could potentially risk the lives of more KPK personnel and undermine the fight against graft in the long run. Therefore, President Jokowi must order the police to solve these cases immediately,” Adnan said.

Adnan was echoed by House of Representatives Speaker Bambang Soesatyo, who called on the police to discover the mastermind behind suspected bomb threats against Agus and Laode to prevent the threats from spiralling out of control.

“Don’t let these incidents get worse particularly ahead of the [presidential and legislative] elections,” Bambang said.

The police have assigned a joint investigative team comprising personnel from — among other agencies — the Jakarta Police, the National Police and the National Police’s Densus 88 counterterrorism squad.

National Police spokesman Brig. Gen. Dedi Prasetyo said Densus 88 was assigned to join the investigative team given its vast experience in handling explosive materials.

“Give the team time to work. We will announce the results once they’re completed,” Dedi said.

Separately, Argo said Jakarta Police personnel would intensify patrols, especially around the houses of KPK commissioners.

The attacks follow one of the KPK’s busiest years in 2018, during which the antigraft body investigated 178 alleged graft cases and prosecuted hundreds of people comprising local leaders, lawmakers, councilors and 

Wednesday’s attacks resembled an earlier terror threat against a KPK investigator in 2015 in which a bomb-like package was left in front of the house of Apip Julian Miftah, who at that time was working on a number of high-profile graft cases.

This article was originally published in The Jakarta Post's print edition on Jan. 10, 2019, with the title "KPK leadership under attack".