TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - THE extent of intimidation faced by Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) investigators in the bribery case at the center of the beef imports scandal, is way beyond the ordinary. The theft of a laptop containing investigator's findings on the flow of bribes to several officials, including high-ranking Indonesian Police officers, was clearly aimed at weakening the investigation into the case; accordingly, this must be thoroughly investigated and resolved.
Two of those convicted of bribery in beef imports, Basuki Hariman and former constitutional court justice Patrialis Akbar, need to be questioned again more intensively. Especially as both were sentenced to prison terms of seven and eight years respectively.
It can readily be inferred the laptop theft is part of a series of intimidations that included the acid attack on senior KPK investigator, Novel Baswedan. Both happened at almost the same time, at the beginning of the year. As in Novel¡'s case, the laptop thief followed the KPK investigator for a long time, waiting until she left her taxi when the perpetrator struck quickly: making off with the laptop in its bag from her shoulder.
It is extremely regrettable this case was not quickly made public after the incident happened. However small any violent incident involving a KPK investigator may be, it should never to be treated lightly.
The investigator herself did report what happened to police, complete with a number of eyewitness reports and evidence. But how the case has been handled remains unclear. The KPK leadership ought to be playing a real, visible role in pushing for it to be resolved. The resolve shown by the heads would then give its investigators a sense of security as well as return the credibility of the institution. The thing is, recently two of the KPK's own investigators are believed to have damaged evidence in the case by tearing up and destroying Basuki Hariman's notes containing the names of high-ranking Police officers accepting bribes.
A more systematic effort to stop the attacks on and intimidation of KPK investigators is now extremely urgent. The Anti-Corruption Coalition Community has to date identified 12 patterns of attacks on investigators: from slander or a 'smear campaign' to intimidation via text messages (SMS) or on social media, by threatening family members, sending death or bomb threats, initiating criminal charges for past actions, casting of a spell, through to physical attacks.
In the past 10 years, KPK investigators have experienced physical and mental intimidation more than 10 times. Senior investigator Novel Baswedan was one most often intimidated. This disturbing trend needs to be stopped. KPK leaders can begin this change by drafting standard operating procedures (SOP) that unequivocally ensure the protection of investigators.
It is true that to date KPK commissioners have always offered protection to investigators working on major corruption cases who are threatened. However, KPK staff usually reject that offer because it is not yet formalized in the institution's permanent procedures. Before he had acid thrown at him in an attack that almost caused the loss of his sight in April, Novel Baswedan was one of those investigators rejecting KPK security escorts.
The rise of threats and attacks against KPK investigators proves those who are corrupt are now increasingly willing to counter-attack using all possible means. Any hesitancy on the part of the KPK leadership in dealing with this intimidation would leave its opponents even freer to continue to spread their threats. In this the integrity of the KPK leadership is being tested: will it act now to protect the institution's investigators or will it sit by idly, just waiting for more attacks to happen.
Read the full article in this week's edition of Tempo English Magazine