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Jakarta Post

Police accused of ethics violation in Novel acid attack case

  • Tri Indah Oktavianti

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Wed, July 8, 2020   /   04:34 pm
Police accused of ethics violation in Novel acid attack case A police officer escorts Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) investigator Novel Baswedan from a meeting with members of the Prosecution Commission in Jakarta on July 2. The meeting was held to discuss a one-year prison sentence demanded by prosecutors, which Novel felt was too lenient, for two police officers accused of attacking the KPK investigator with acid. (JP/Seto Wardhana)

Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) senior investigator Novel Baswedan’s advocacy team has urged the National Police to investigate an alleged professional ethics violation by the legal team representing two police officers accused of attacking Novel with acid.

The advocacy team accused National Police legal division head Insp. Gen. Rudy Heriyanto Adi Nugroho of misusing his authority to hide evidence and cover up the crime allegedly committed by his fellow police officers, Chief Brig. Ronny Bugis and Brig. Rahmat Kadir Mahulette, who are standing trial for allegedly assaulting Novel in April 2017.

At the time of the incident, Rudy was the Jakarta Police’s general crime division head. He was responsible for handling the investigation of the crime scene. He is currently leading the legal team representing Ronny and Rahmat in court.

“Everything related to the investigation was under his responsibility, including the allegedly lost evidence, which looks like an action to cover up the crime,” Kurnia Ramadhan, a spokesperson for Novel’s advocacy team, said in a statement on Tuesday.

Read also: KPK calls for maximum sentence for Novel attackers amid low-sentence demand

Among the lost evidence were fingerprints from the bottle and glass reportedly used by the perpetrators to carry the acidic solution, as stated by then-Jakarta Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Argo Yuwono in August 2017. The bottle and the glass were not included in the case’s evidence list.

“Witnesses and the victim previously confirmed that the police found the bottle and the glass at the crime scene on the same day of the attack,” Kurnia said, adding that the fingerprints would not have disappeared in such a short period of time.

Argo said in October 2017 that investigators had gathered 400 CCTV recordings from cameras located within a 500-meter radius of the crime scene.

“However, witnesses and the victim claimed the police had not looked into several high-resolution CCTV cameras installed around the victim’s house, which allegedly captured the perpetrators’ faces and their escape routes,” said Kurnia.

The team argued that the investigators had not revealed their findings from a process known as cell tower dump surveillance, a technique used to identify suspects through communications intercepted around the scene of a crime.

At a hearing on April 30, the North Jakarta District Court presented the robe worn by Novel during the attack. Novel’s advocacy team, however, noticed a rip on the robe, which the police claimed was a result of a forensics investigation.

“The victim was never provided information about the forensic investigation. It should be documented,” Kurnia said.

Read also: Jokowi hopes for 'fair' verdict in Novel Baswedan's acid attack trial: State Palace

The advocacy team and other activists have criticized the National Police for giving legal assistance to the two defendants, citing a potential conflict of interest in the legal process.

Prosecutors have demanded a one-year prison sentence for Rahmat and Ronny for their alleged roles in the attacked against Novel Baswedan. The acid attack caused severe damage to the KPK investigator’s left eye.

Activists and the public have decried the suggested sentence, questioning the legal team’s argument that the defendants had no intention of committing such a crime and that the attack was not planned, despite the fact that Rahmat had scouted Novel’s house several days before.