The Greater Jakarta Police should not be too hasty in investigating alleged misuse of authority by three Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) staff. The police should have been more cautious in their response to the complaint filed by a person who feels aggrieved by the uncovering of a bribery case by the KPK.
The accusation has been made against Ario Bilowo (senior KPK investigator), Arend Arthur Duma and Edy Kurniawan (both investigators). Before working at the KPK, Ario was an auditor at the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK). They played an important role in uncovering a bribery case involving a senior auditor in BPK, last October. Now, Ario and his colleagues have been accused of abusing their authority. The three also stand accused of coercion according to Article 225 of the Criminal Code- known as the offense of ‘displeasing conduct’ before the article was corrected by the Constitutional Court.
The police investigation into this case appears strange because, among other things, it is based on a complaint from Rochmadi Saptogiri, the disgraced BPK auditor caught in the KPK sting operation. After he was arrested, he filed a report with the police through his son. Rochmadi is currently on trial, accused of taking a Rp240 million bribe from a Ministry of Village Affairs, Regional Development, Disadvantaged Areas and Transmigration official. He is also charged with accepting a Rp3.5 billion of illegal bonus.
As law enforcement officials, Ario and his colleagues should not be liable to criminal charges for uncovering bribery. Moreover, the accusation of abusing authority according to Article 421 of the Criminal Code is very weak. As long as they discharged their duties professionally, the three KPK personal cannot be reported for abusing their authority. For Ario, even if the accusation is linked with his previous position as a BPK auditor, it is still irrelevant.
The same is true for the charge of ‘displeasing conduct’ under Article 335 of the Criminal Code. This provision cannot be applied because there must be an aspect that is ‘against the law’. The actions of the KPK investigators- investigating, confiscating evidence and detaining suspects- were clearly in line with the law because they were implementing the KPK Law. Furthermore, this article cannot be used arbitrarily because the ‘against the law’ element was expunged by the Constitutional Court in 2014.
There is the impression that the police have acted hastily in handling this case. Only a week after Ario was reported, on October 13 the police issued a written order to start an investigation. Dozens of witnesses have already been questioned in the case.
This move by the police has the potential to disrupt the trial of Rochmadi now underway at the Jakarta Corruption Court. Instead, the police should respect the provisions in the Corruption Eradication Law, which in article 25 states that a corruption case takes priority over other cases. This investigation could also undermine the authority of the KPK, and even can be seen as an endeavor to weaken the body that is currently investigating a number of major cases.
The KPK leadership must take a firm stance against threats to weaken the commission in any form. The KPK needs to protect and robustly defend its three employees facing criminal charges. It should consider filing a pre-trial motion against the police. Investigators working to uncover corruption cases should not be threatened with jail sentences.