KPK’s Hands Tied on Police, AGO Graft

The Jakarta Globe

Although the nation’s antigraft agency has arrested more corruption suspects in 2010 than in the previous year, it has been unable or unwilling to pursue cases involving police or prosecutors, a graft watchdog said on Monday.

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has shown a “significant” improvement in 2010 over the previous year, arresting 69 suspects and handling 23 cases that caused state losses totaling Rp 619.13 billion ($70.5 million), Indonesia Corruption Watch said.

In 2009, the KPK arrested 42 suspects linked to 23 cases estimated to have cost the state Rp 420 billion, according to the ICW.

The corruption watchdog lauded the higher 2010 totals as evidence that the KPK was aggressively pursuing allegations of graft at all levels of government.

“In term of the quality, the KPK has improved their performance because instead of just handling corruption cases in the central government they have also handled corruption at the regional level.” ICW researcher Tama Satrya Langkun said.

However, the ICW pointed out that the KPK’s record when it came to investigating members of the National Police or the Attorney General’s Office was lacking.

“Other than still having 10 unsolved corruption cases, including the Bank Century bailout case during 2010, the KPK has not been able to handle corruption cases involving officers of the National Police or prosecutors,” Tama said.

Tackling such cases, he said, was urgent “so it can help accelerate the reform at the law enforcement level.”

Tama himself was hospitalized last year after being beaten by unknown assailants. The attack is believed by many to have been in retaliation for his investigation into the suspiciously large bank accounts of high-ranking National Police officers.

ICW deputy coordinator Adnan Topan Husodo conjectured that the KPK was reluctant to pursue law enforcement officials due to the likelihood of bad blood building between the agencies — the antigraft body often works with the National Police and the AGO on its cases.

Adnan said the KPK was already drawing heat from the House of Representatives after alleging 51 former and sitting lawmakers were linked to the Miranda Goeltom bribery scandal.

“Although the KPK has improved their performance by arresting members of the House and former state officials who committed corruption, they have to be careful with the possibility of the backlash from the House of Representatives,” Adnan warned.

He said the House could potentially hobble the KPK by cutting its funding or reducing its authority.

“Therefore, the KPK has to keep improving their performance so that they will not lose the public trust in their handling of corruption cases. It they do, some actors will try to use the opportunity to destroy the KPK for their own purpose, including House members.”

He pointed to the ongoing conflict between House Commission III and the KPK involving KPK deputies Bibit Samad Rianto and Chandra M. Hamzah. The two men were named suspects in late 2009 in an extortion case widely believed to have been fabricated.

In January, they were barred from appearing at House hearings just days after 19 lawmakers were arrested in connection with the Miranda bribery scandal, leading some critics to allege the ban was politically motivated.

The case against the KPK officials has been dropped, but lawmakers have continued to object to their presence at hearings.

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