Combative anti-graft chairmen see shorter tenures

Combative anti-graft chairmen see shorter tenures
The second KPK chief, Antasari Azhar.

History has proven that two out of three sitting chairmen of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) have been forced to pay for their aggressiveness in the job and have not just been ousted from the antigraft body, but have also faced prosecution and in one case have been found guilty of murder.

The second KPK chief, Antasari Azhar, lost his position almost halfway through his four-year tenure.

He was sent to prison for 18 years after being found guilty of masterminding the murder of a businessman.

His tenure was expected to last until 2011.

The third chairman, Abraham Samad, recently lost his position after the police declared him a suspect in a document-forgery case.

Among the three KPK leaders, Abraham had been the most aggressive and had enjoyed success, placing several big names behind bars, but he will not be able to finish his term in December due to his suspect status.

As the first KPK chairman, Taufiequrachman Ruki was successful in leading the antigraft body for four years until 2007, without any serious obstacles or controversies.

Ruki's track record clearly impressed President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo.

Last week, he appointed the retired police general as acting KPK chairman along with adding two acting deputies, after the National Police declared Abraham a suspect.

For Antasari, who was a senior prosecutor at the Attorney General's Office (AGO) before his promotion to the KPK, his expulsion from the antigraft body came after the South Jakarta District Court sentenced him to 18 years' imprisonment for masterminding the murder of businessman Nasruddin Zulkarnaen in February 2010.

According to the verdict, Antasari decided to end Nasruddin's life because the latter was blackmailing him, after Nasruddin caught Antarasari in a hotel room with the former's third wife, Rani Juliani.

The businessman was killed in a drive-by shooting in Tangerang in May 2009.

Prosecutors claimed the hotel-room incident led to Antasari wanting Nasruddin killed, with help from former South Jakarta Police senior officer Williardi Wizard, businessman Jerry Hermawan Lo - who allegedly recruited the hit men - and Sigid Hermawan Wibisono, a media tycoon who allegedly provided financial backing.

Suspicions grew that Antasari was set up following his aggressive moves to bring former Bank Indonesia deputy governor Aulia Pohan, an in-law of then president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, to court in an embezzlement case.

Antasari also launched an investigation into alleged corruption plaguing the procurement of an IT project at the General Elections Commission (KPU) that was worth billions of rupiah, a move that could have further exposed alleged vote rigging in the controversial victory of Yudhoyono and his Democratic Party in the 2009 presidential race.

Antasari's aggressiveness reached its peak when he declared he would take control of an investigation into the Rp 6.7 trillion (S$706.3 million)bailout of Bank Century, which at the time was being investigated by the National Police.

Yudhoyono strongly denied all allegations leveled against him.

Meanwhile, Abraham faced numerous allegations concerning breaches of ethics before his status as a suspect was confirmed earlier this month.

Abraham was widely considered the most aggressive KPK chairman in history.

During his tenure, the KPK netted three active ministers, two active party chairmen, two active police generals, one active Constitutional Court chief justice, one active Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) chairman as well as scores of governors, lawmakers and high-profile businessmen.

Abraham also said the KPK would name former vice president Boediono a suspect in the Bank Century case.

He was also accused of having affairs with at least two women, which he strongly denied.

Gadjah Mada University Corruption Studies Center director Zainal Arifin Mochtar said that presidents should protect KPK leaders from any form of criminalization during their four-year tenures.

"There must be a system [that protects them from legal attacks] launched by those who want to weaken the country's anticorruption efforts," Zainal said.

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