The Jakarta Post
Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) senior investigator Novel Baswedan told the North Jakarta District Court on Thursday that he had received a tip-off from a high-ranking police officer regarding the alleged mastermind behind an acid attack against him in 2017.
In his first testimony as a witness and victim in the case, Novel told the North Jakarta District Court that, three years ago, then-Jakarta Police chief M. Iriawan and KPK chairman Agus Rahardjo visited him about a week after he reported the incident to then-National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian.
"[Iriawan] mentioned the name of the [alleged mastermind] a few times [during the visit], someone influential," Novel told the court's panel of judges on Thursday.
The assault happened on April 11, 2017, when two men riding a motorcycle threw acid on Novel's face when the latter was walking home after a morning prayer from a mosque near his house in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta.
The police's investigation into the case dragged on for more than two years until authorities arrested two active low-ranking police officers from Depok’s Kelapa Dua mobile brigade, Ronny Bugis and Rahmat Kadir Mahulete, in December last year.
Prosecutors charged the two defendants under Article 355 on premeditated ill treatment, which carries a maximum sentence of 12 years' imprisonment upon conviction.
Novel told court on Thursday that he believed the acid attack was related to his work in handling some high-profile graft cases prior to the incident, including a bribery case involving businessman Basuki Hariman and former Constitutional Court justice Patrialis Akbar, as well as the electronic ID graft case involving former Golkar Party chairman Setya Novanto.
He also said that a few people had spied on him two weeks prior to the assault, with some suspicious cars passing by his house. Novel said his neighbors took pictures of suspicious people near his residence, which he reported to Iriawan, who then told the KPK investigator to be careful.
After the court session ended, Novel told journalists that he doubted the defendants' motive in carrying out the attack.
According to the indictment, the two defendants claimed that the assault was due to a grudge over Novel's work as an investigator for the KPK, which has sent powerful state officials, including top police generals such as Insp. Gen. Djoko Susilo, to prison. The two perceived this as a form of resistance against the National Police.
“Low-ranking police officers usually live a simple life, which means that they are people who are not using their authority to seek profit or wealth,” Novel told reporters, “If the defendants have a grudge because I am fighting corruption, I don't think it makes sense."
Activists and members of the public have repeatedly lambasted the police force for taking years to arrest the alleged perpetrators. Many also suspect that the mastermind behind the attack is still on the loose.
In an interview with TIME magazine weeks after the incident in 2017, Novel claimed he had received information that “a police general – a high-level police official – was involved” in the attack.
Novel’s advocacy team criticized the trial, arguing that it did not intend to reveal the mastermind of the attack and so it would most likely lead to a light sentence for the defendants.
Rights group Amnesty International Indonesia called on the government to step up its commitment to identifying the person or persons responsible for the assault.