The Jakarta Post
Prosecutors have demanded that two police officers be given one-year jail terms for their involvement in the acid attack on Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) investigator Novel Baswedan in which the graft buster lost an eye.
The two defendants, Chief Brig. Ronny Bugis and Brig. Rahmat Kadir Mahulette from the National Police’s Mobile Brigade Corps headquarters in Kelapa Dua, Depok, West Java, have been charged with violating Article 353 clause 2 of the Criminal Code on planned torture that causes severe bodily harm. The offense carries a maximum of seven years’ imprisonment.
After both defendants allegedly scouted Novel’s house for several days prior to the attack, Rahmat is accused of throwing sulfuric acid in Novel’s face in April 2017 when the latter was walking home from morning prayers at Al Ihsan Mosque in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta. Ronny’s alleged role was driving Rahmat on his motorcycle on the day of the attack.
Ronny and Rahmat have been accused of attacking Novel because of the latter’s work as an investigator for the KPK, which saw several powerful and corrupt politicians and government officials ending up behind bars. Both saw Novel’s work as an attack on the police.
“The assault caused a major injury that would hinder Novel from doing his job as KPK investigator,” the prosecutors read out the indictment at the North Jakarta District Court.
The attack left Novel’s left eye with third-degree burns, in addition to first- and second-degree burns to his face, according to a medical report. During a previous court session, it was revealed that his left eye is now completely blind while the right eye retains about 50 percent of its normal vision.
The prosecutors said that Ronny and Rachmat’s offense stained the reputation of the National Police and this was an exacerbating factor in their indictments. Prosecutors said as a police officer whose duty was to ensure public safety, Ronny should have prevented the attack.
However, their good behavior and cooperation in the trial and their prior service as police officers were regarded as mitigating factors.
The defendants’ lawyers said that they would file their defense on Monday, which was approved by the panel of judges.
The police were criticized for their sluggish investigation as, before the arrest, a string of investigations carried out by the police and a fact-finding team formed by then National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian — who now serves as home minister — was unable to identify the attackers. The police finally managed to arrest both suspects in December 2019, two and a half years after the attack.
Novel expressed his disappointment at the one-year sentence demand shortly after the court hearing, saying that it was proof that the trial was a mere formality.
“Outrageous indeed. My daily duty was to eradicate the legal mafia through the Corruption Law. Yet I’ve become the victim of this kind of comical practice,” Novel posted on his twitter account @nazaqistsha, sarcastically congratulating President Joko “Jokowi” Widodo for “the achievement”.
Novel’s advocacy team also noted several suspicious aspects about the case, such as charging the defendants with torture instead of attempted murder and not inviting three witnesses who had been previously been investigated by the police.
“The prosecutors seemed like they were defending the defendants. The public can easily conclude that from the demands made for the two defendants,” advocacy team member Alghiffari Aqsa wrote in a statement published on Thursday.