SBY vows to defends Indonesia’s anti-graft agency

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Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has vowed to defend the country’s anti-graft agency.

His statement is in response to the arrest of two senior investigators and growing doubts about his war on corruption.

The two senior investigators, Chandra Hamzah and Bibit Samad Rianto were suspended in September after police alleged they had overstepped their powers, while also accepting bribes to drop an investigation.

The president, re-elected in July on a platform to stamp out rampant graft in one of the world’s most corrupt countries, also ordered his police chief to publicly explain the arrests.

He says if anyone wants to break up the Corruption Eradication Commission agency (KPK) he will fight them.

President Yudhoyono, says it’s important to resolve public misperceptions about a conflict between the police, prosecutors and the anti-corruption agency.

He was speaking after summoning ministers and officials to his office to discuss the arrests.

Corruption fight

Anti-corruption analysts say the latest move could be part of a wider campaign to undermine the fight against graft in Indonesia.

The Corruption Eradication Commission, or KPK, has a 100 percent conviction rate.

But its successes in exposing and prosecuting corrupt politicians, business people and bureaucrats have also made the agency an enemy of many among the Indonesian elite, including the police force.

In July, the national chief of detectives, Susno Duadji, all but declared war on the commission when, in an interview with Tempo magazine, he likened it to a stupid gecko for attempting to challenge a crocodile, presumably Indonesia’s police.

Teten Masduki, of corruption watchdog Transparency International, told Radio Australia’s Connect Asia: “There are many cases of the KPK making problems for the police and the attorney-general’s office.”

Sometimes, the Transparency International representative claims, the attorney-general’s office or the police say there is insufficient evidence to take a case to court, “but easily the KPK can sue the case to the court”.

Hamzah and Rianto were suspended amid police accusations they had abused their powers by issuing travel bans against two executives they were investigating.

Then came a counter-claim from the KPK, saying they had taped discussions about a plan to implicate the deputy commissioners in a bribery case.

Mastermind

A transcript of the tapes has been widely circulated in the local media.

In the recording, deputy attorney-general Abdul Hakim Ritonga is repeatedly mentioned as the mastermind of the plot, an accusation he denied this week.

Mr Ritonga said: “I was asked, did you set them up, and I said I didn’t. But I did what I should do according to the law to handle the case.”

He says he is the victim of a smear campaign. But he also urged police to drop the investigation into the two men, saying it appeared there was not enough evidence.

Instead the police choose to officially arrest the pair on Thursday, claiming the accused had compromised the investigation by speaking to the media.

Just what the evidence is against them remains unclear. They were not charged with accepting bribes, an accusation levelled at them earlier.

In a tumultuous year for the KPK, its head, Antasari Azhar, was arrested in May for allegedly organising the murder of a businessman, with whom he was reportedly involved in a love triangle.