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Jakarta Post

After six months, fact-finding team fails to identify Novel's attacker

  • Karina M. Tehusijarana
    Karina M. Tehusijarana

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, July 17, 2019   /   05:42 pm
After six months, fact-finding team fails to identify Novel's attacker Acid attack: Corruption Eradication Commission senior investigator Novel Baswedan has his photo taken after talking to journalists in Singapore. Novel underwent treatment in Singapore on his left eye, which was injured in an acid attack last year. (The Jakarta Post/Dhoni Setiawan)

After six months of work, a fact-finding team formed by National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian has failed to identify any suspects behind an acid attack against top Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) investigator Novel Baswedan.

The team, formed in January, submitted its final report on Wednesday, and recommended that the police form a technical team to continue its investigation.

Former National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) head Nur Kholis, one of the experts on the team, said it had double-checked the alibis of four witnesses who were previously suspected of being involved in the attack, but did not find "sufficient and definitive evidence" of their involvement.

National Police spokesperson Insp. Gen. Muhammad Iqbal defended the apparent lack of progress in the fact-finding team's investigation, saying that different cases had "different levels of difficulty”.

"This case has a minimal amount of evidence," Iqbal told a press conference on Wednesday. "[Solving it] will take time."

The attack occurred on April 11, 2017, when two unidentified men threw acid at Novel's face as the investigator was on his way home from morning prayers at a mosque near his house in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta.

Nur said the team had suspected that three unidentified persons – one of whom visited Novel's house on April 5, while two were at the mosque on April 10 – were involved in the attack.

He said it was suspected that their motive behind the attack was related to high-profile corruption cases that Novel was investigating at the KPK and recommended that the police look into those cases for possible suspects.

Iqbal said Tito would form the recommended technical team within a week, with the police's Criminal Investigation Department (Bareskrim) head, Insp. Gen. Idham Azis, leading the group.

"If we can solve [the case] one month after this press conference, Alhamdulillah [Thank God]," Iqbal said. "The team will consist of [Idham's] best investigators."

The National Police chief established the fact-finding team amid pressure from activists and members of the public who had long criticized the lack of significant progress in the investigation in its first years.

Authorities produced two sketches of the attackers, but there were no further leads, let alone information on the mastermind behind the attack, which severely injured Novel's left eye.

The fact-finding team comprised 65 personnel, including 52 police officers, seven experts and six officials from the KPK. The team was given six months to solve the case.

Critics of the team – including Novel himself – previously expressed skepticism over its independence, as it mostly comprised police officers instead of more independent civil society figures. (afr)