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Jakarta Post

Three years on, Amnesty urges govt to dig deeper into Novel's attack to find the 'mastermind'

  • Moch. Fiqih Perwira Adjie

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, April 11, 2020   /   02:35 pm
Three years on, Amnesty urges govt to dig deeper into Novel's attack to find the 'mastermind' Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) investigator Novel Baswedan arrives at the Jakarta Police headquarters in in Jakarta, on Dec. 6, 2019. (JP/Seto Wardhana)

Amnesty International Indonesia has called on the government to step up its commitment to identifying the person or persons responsible for an acid attack on graft investigator Novel Baswedan, as Saturday marks the third year since the incident without significant progress.

According to Amnesty International Indonesia executive director Usman Hamid, the authorities have been dragging their feet in handling the investigation into the attack, which left Novel blind in one eye.

“They may have arrested two active police officers [in the case], but [their involvement] is still in doubt,” Usman wrote in a statement on Saturday.

“It should not stop there, especially if there’s a possibility that someone is being scapegoated.”

The two policemen, Ronny Bugis and Rahmat Kadir Mahulete from the National Police’ Mobile Brigade Headquarters in Kelapa Dua, Depok, were arrested on Dec. 29, 2019, two and a half years after the attack in April 2017. The two officers are accused of throwing acid into Novel’s face from a motorcycle as the graft investigator was walking home from morning prayers at Al Ihsan Mosque in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta.

Prior to the arrest, a string of investigations — carried out by the police and a fact-finding team formed by former National Police chief Gen. (ret.) Tito Karnavian, who is now home affairs minister — was unable to identify the attackers.

In an indictment hearing in the North Jakarta District Court last month, prosecutors charged the two defendants with violating Article 355 on premeditated ill-treatment, which carries a maximum sentence of 12 years in imprison upon conviction. The two were also charged with subsidiary indictments of violating articles 353 and 351 of the Criminal Code, both related to mistreatment.

Read also: Defendants of Novel Baswedan’s acid attack say no objection to indictment

In the indictment read to the court, prosecutor Fedrik Adhar accused Ronny and Rahmat of attacking Novel because they were angered by his work as a top investigator for the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), seeing it as a form of resistance against the National Police.

“[The investigation] should not stop with personal revenge as a motive,” Usman said, demanding that President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo form an independent team to further look into the case.

"Other actors involved must be thoroughly investigated, especially the mastermind. Novel remains a symbol of the country's efforts in eradicating corruption.”

The just and fair handling of the case would also help prevent similar attacks on other antigraft activists, according to Amnesty. Intimidation against anticorruption activists continues to take place across the country, according to data gathered by Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW), which recorded 115 victims of intimidation in 91 cases from 1996 to 2019.

"This is a real form of terror against human rights activists in the anticorruption sector,” Usman added.