Police ignore Jokowi's orders

Police ignore Jokowi's orders
The accused: Novel Baswedan (center), an investigator with the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), leaves the National Police’s Criminal Investigation agency (Bareskrim) after being questioned Friday. Novel was arrested in connection with the killing an alleged bird nest thief in Bengkulu in 2004 when he served as a police officer.

The National Police brushed off President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's order on Friday to release the Corruption Eradication Commission's (KPK) top investigator, Novel Baswedan, who was arrested in connection with an assault case that took place in 2004.

Novel was arrested at his home in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta, shortly after midnight on Friday as a suspect in an assault that happened when he served as the Bengkulu Police's detective chief.

After a 10-hour interrogation at the National Police headquarters in South Jakarta, Novel, who was handcuffed and ordered to wear a detainee's jacket, was transferred for further questioning to the police's Mobile Brigade (Brimob) headquarters, widely known as a detention centre for terrorist suspects, in Depok, West Java.

As news quickly spread of Novel's arrest, Jokowi issued a statement from his hometown of Surakarta, ordering the National Police not to make the controversial move or detain Novel because it would reduce trust between the police force, the Attorney General's Office (AGO) and the KPK in their fight against corruption.

"I have already instructed the National Police chief [Gen. Badrodin Haiti] not to detain Pak Novel Baswedan. Most importantly, the legal process must be fair and transparent," he told reporters.

"The National Police, KPK and the AGO must work together to eradicate corruption," he added.

But Jokowi's orders fell on deaf ears, as officers in charge of the investigation moved to transport Novel at 4 p.m. to Bengkulu in a special police aircraft in order to conduct a crime scene investigation later in the evening.

The police appeared to have won support from some in Jokowi's administration.

Vice President Jusuf Kalla said that the police force was only doing its job to solve a criminal case.

"They filed a report [about the arrest]. What is most important to me is transparency and the police force has promised to remain transparent. This is just a normal criminal case," he said after a meeting with Badrodin at the National Police headquarters.

Badrodin claimed that Novel's arrest was in line with the Criminal Law Procedures Code as the former police officer had failed to fulfil three police summonses for questioning as a suspect.

He emphasised that it was urgent to complete Novel's case dossier soon, as the case would expire next year as stipulated by Article 78 of the Criminal Code.

"If we do not solve this case then Novel's victims, or the person who filed the original report, could file a lawsuit against the police force. This is why it is urgent to complete the dossier as soon as possible," he said.

The police first reopened an investigation into Novel in 2012 after the antigraft body named then National Police Traffic Corps (Korlantas) chief Insp. Gen. Djoko Susilo a graft suspect.

Then president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono requested the police halt the probe into Novel's case to avoid worsening the standoff between the police and the KPK.

Novel's arrest came soon after Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan, once a candidate for the National Police chief, was sworn in as Badrodin's deputy. Budi was named a suspect by the KPK in January for bribery.

KPK leaders have maintained that Novel did not handle the investigation into Budi's bribery case, nor into another bribery case involving an Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle lawmaker, Adriansyah.

Meanwhile, National Police detective division chief Comr. Gen. Budi Waseso said that the arrest of Novel was to show that police officers were not above the law.

"So if police officers shoot somebody then they can be charged. Novel is a good example of that," he said.

Other than incarcerating Novel, police investigators also searched four locations in Jakarta, two of which were houses owned by Novel, according to his wealth report.

Separately, one of Novel's lawyers, Muji Kartika Rahayu, slammed the police for lying and for not going public with Novel's arrest until midday Friday.

"We arrived at the police headquarters at 3 a.m. but were not given access until 8:30 a.m. By then, however, they were taking his fingerprints and giving him a medical check-up before they eventually handed us notification that they would detain Novel," she said. -

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