The Jakarta Post
After more than two years hoping for the resolution of his assault case, Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) investigator Novel Baswedan faces another hurdle. He has been accused of faking the acid attack against him.
Big data analysts have traced the allegations, which have been making rounds on social media, to posts by buzzers earlier this month saying that Novel had fabricated his case.
Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politician Dewi Ambarwati, however, decided on Wednesday to take the rumors to the next level. She reported Novel to the Jakarta Police, accusing him of faking the attack.
“There are several oddities in the things that occurred, starting from the CCTV recording, the shape of the wound, the bandage and the head. But he ended up being blind,” Dewi said.
“Someone covered in hot water [acid] wouldn’t stand still but would be falling and rolling around instead. That’s what I have learned,” she added.
Dewi demanded Indonesian doctors disclose Novel’s medical records as she refused to believe the version written by the Singaporean hospital where Novel underwent treatment.
Before filing the report against Novel, Dewi had reportedly gone to the police with allegations of treason against critics of President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo, including National Mandate Party (PAN) patron Amien Rais, firebrand cleric Rizieq Shihab and lawyer Eggi Sudjana, kompas.com reported.
Analysts at big data consulting company Drone Emprit said social media buzzers began to spread "disinformation" that Novel had faked his attack around Nov. 1, just as Jokowi renewed his call for the National Police to conclude the acid-attack investigation by next month.
Some of the most prolific Twitter accusers included @AdellaWibawa and @Triwulan82 -- both of whom, according to Drone Emprit, were well-known Jokowi supporters during the 2019 presidential election.
Drone Emprit analysts, however, declined to consider the buzzers either pro-Jokowi or pro-government, noting that there could be various motives prompting the users to share the disinformation.
Novel said during an interview with Kompas TV on Thursday that it was not important for him to respond. He believed the PDI-P politician herself knew she had filed a "haphazard" report to the police.
Novel’s team of lawyers demanded the police discontinue the report, which they called "slanderous", as the acid attack was a proven legal fact.
"The report is an attempt to criminalize the victim. It is strongly believed that [the report] is meant to undermine support for the case’s resolution and for corruption eradication efforts in Indonesia as a whole,” Jakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH) director Alghiffari Aqsa, one of Novel’s lawyers, said in a written statement on Thursday.
He criticized the report’s timing, asking why it was filed during a moment of public pressure on the president to issue a government regulation in lieu of law (Perppu) on the KPK. He said the state had to resolve the case after more than two years of fruitless probing.
“This is beyond human reason and limits. We will take legal action for defamation against Novel,” he added.
The lawyers also demanded Jokowi establish an independent team directly accountable to the president.
The Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) coordinator Adnan Topan Husodo expressed a similar opinion, saying the reporting was a counterattack not only against Novel but also against the antigraft body.
“Why have false accusations repeatedly been generated while corruption eradication efforts are attenuated?” he asked on Thursday.
“This is a big lesson for us. It is better to reform our country’s political institutions rather than simply encourage good people to enter the system,” he said.
New National Police chief Gen. Idham Azis, the former detective chief who previously led the police’s technical team for the probe, has said that he will assign a new chief detective to solve the case.