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Jakarta Post

Novel's lawyers slam police for giving legal aid to alleged attackers

  • Moch. Fiqih Prawira Adjie

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Tue, June 30, 2020   /   05:04 pm
Novel's lawyers slam police for giving legal aid to alleged attackers A police officer suspected of carrying out an acid attack on Novel Baswedan is escorted outside the Jakarta Police headquarters in South Jakarta on Dec. 28, 2019. ( Aryadita Umasugi)

Novel Baswedan's advocacy team has slammed the National Police for giving legal assistance to two police officers currently standing trial for allegedly attacking the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) investigator, urging the Indonesian Ombudsman to investigate the corps for alleged maladministration.

The police-led legal team for the defendants, headed by National Police law division head Insp. Gen. Rudy Heriyanto Adi Nugroho, could be viewed as a potential conflict of interest, the advocacy team said in a statement published on Monday.

The team claimed that based on information they had received, Rudy had given the defendants -- members of the police's Mobile Brigade Unit, Chief Brig. Ronny Bugis and Brig. Rahmat Kadir Mahulette -- legal assistance since the start of the investigation into the acid attack in April 2017 until after the case had been brought to court.

The two-star police general previously served as the Jakarta Police's general crime division head during the investigation into the assault.

"We demand the National Police stop the legal assistance it provides to Ronny and Rahmat," Novel's advocacy team said, "[The assistance] is not legally valid and it poses a potential for a conflict of interest that could lead to a mistrial."

"We also urge the Indonesian Ombudsman to investigate the National Police for alleged maladministration," the team added.

National Police Chief Regulation No. 2/2017 stipulates that police officers and their family members are eligible for legal consultation, advice, advocacy and assistance from the police institution in regard to legal problems.

Read also: KPK urged to take on Novel’s acid attack case after prosecutors demand light sentence

However, Novel's advocacy team argued that the National Police should also heed Government Regulation No. 3/2003, which stipulates that officers can only receive legal assistance if their cases are related to their work.

The team said that the police chief regulation was only a technical guideline in relation to the government regulation.

Ronny and Rahmat allegedly attacked Novel in 2017 with sulfuric acid, causing severe damage to the latter's left eye. In the indictment, prosecutors said the defendants perpetrated the attack because they held a grudge over the victim's work as an investigator for the KPK, seeing it as a form of opposition to the National Police.

According to Novel’s team, the crimes allegedly committed by Rahmat and Ronny could not be regarded as related to their duties as the defendants testified before the court that the attack was a result of personal motives.

"If the National Police insist on providing legal assistance, we can conclude that the police as an institution was involved in the crime that the defendants have [allegedly] committed," the statement wrote.

Human rights activists and experts have also previously criticized the designation of police officers as the defendants' lawyers, with criminal law expert Abdul Fickar Hadjar from Jakarta's Trisakti University saying that public advocates should be the lawyers in criminal cases.

When contacted by The Jakarta Post, National Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Argo Yuwono stopped short at commenting about the demand. "Let the trial proceedings decide. We will leave it up to the court," he said on Tuesday.

Prosecutors at the North Jakarta District Court have demanded a one-year prison sentence for the two defendants.

The relatively light sentence demand has led to questions being asked about the prosecutors' argument that the defendants had "accidentally" thrown the acid into Novel's face.

Activists and members of the public have also raised suspicions that the two policemen are merely scapegoats, with the mastermind behind the attack still at large.