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Jakarta Post

‘Far from facts’: Novel Baswedan questions burden of proof ahead of Thursday's verdict

  • Moch. Fiqih Prawira Adjie

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Thu, July 16, 2020   /   09:23 am
‘Far from facts’: Novel Baswedan questions burden of proof ahead of Thursday's verdict Corruption Eradication Commission senior investigator Novel Baswedan of the (KPK) speaks to journalists in Singapore on Nov. 16, 2017. Novel has expressed doubt over the upcoming conclusion to the trial against his alleged attackers, with the North Jakarta District Court due to issue its verdict on Thursday. (The Jakarta Post/Dhoni Setiawan)

Senior corruption investigator Novel Baswedan has expressed skepticism over the trial of his suspected attackers as the North Jakarta District Court prepares to issue its verdict on Thursday.

Novel said that it was difficult for him to remain hopeful about the legal proceedings.

"It's hard to speak of hope when the trial has deviated far from the facts of the incident. Not to mention the many irregularities and important witnesses who were intentionally not questioned," the senior investigator of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) e said on Wednesday, as quoted by kompas.com.

He continued that the judges should not push for punishing the defendants by manipulating the facts or fabricating evidence, and instead urged the court to find them not guilty if there was not enough evidence to support a guilty verdict.

State prosecutors have demanded a one-year prison sentence for the defendants, policemen Chief Brig. Ronny Bugis and Brig. Rahmat Kadir Mahulette, who allegedly threw sulfuric acid on Novel, permanently blinding him in one eye.

They were charged with Article 355 of the Criminal Code for planned assault. The article carries a maximum sentence of five years.

The light sentence demand sparked public outcry over the prosecutors' argument that the defendants "accidentally" threw the acid into Novel's face in April 2017. Novel's legal team also said that the prosecution neglected to summon several key witnesses, including Novel’s three neighbors.

Activists and members of the public also raised speculation that the two policemen were mere scapegoats and that the mastermind behind the planned attack was still at large.

Read also: Prosecutors reject defense arguments in Novel acid attack case

Novel also expressed his own doubts that the defendants were the real perpetrators, asking why two low-ranking police officers would target a KPK investigator in charge of high-profile cases.

The defendants have cited a "personal grudge" as their reason for carrying out the attack.

Ahead of the verdict, Novel's legal team expressed its hope that the judges would be objective and independent in ruling on the case. It also urged the Supreme Court to ensure that the judicial panel presiding over the trial would "act objectively and not take part in a misguided trial".

"[We also urge] President Joko Widodo to form an Independent joint fact-finding team, which we believe could uncover the attack on the KPK investigator, Novel Baswedan," lawyer Kurnia Ramadhana said in a statement released on Wednesday.

"If this is not done, then we deserve to say that the President failed in guaranteeing the safety of his citizens, given that the National Police and the Attorney General's Office are directly under the President, adding to that the fact that the victim is a law [enforcement agent]," the statement read.

KPK Employees Association chairman Yudi Purnomo also expressed hope that the attack on Novel would be fully uncovered to deter others from threatening law enforcement officers.

"The public will certainly be watching to see whether the judges will punish [the defendants] lightly as the prosecutors demanded, or punish them harshly because the perpetrators attacked [a member of] the state apparatus in charge of eradicating corruption," Yudi told The Jakarta Post on Wednesday.

"Maybe [the judges will] even clear the defendants because the facts [presented] in the trial prove that they are not the culprits," he suggested.

"But what is clear to us is that the long road to solving a case that has been going on for more than three years is not yet over. Because the [mastermind] has not been revealed over the course of the trial, and the motive for the attack remains unclear," he said, noting that the case was built entirely around the defendants’ confessions.