A criminal law expert said on Friday that the President had no authority over investigations conducted by the National Police.
Muhammadiyah University professor Chairul Huda said at the South Jakarta District Court during a hearing on the pretrial motion filed by Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) investigator Novel Baswedan that the President also could not order a case to be dropped.
"In the criminal justice system, the President has direct authority only over the National Police chief and not individual investigators," he told the court during his testimony.
He also said that intervention in a case by the President could only be implemented if it was in written form, not just announced publicly.
"The instruction to drop a case must be in written form and a case can only be dropped under special circumstances," he said.
Novel was arrested at his home in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta, at around midnight on May 1, in connection with an assault case more than a decade old that occurred while he was Bengkulu Police detective chief.
After 10 hours of undergoing questioning at the National Police headquarters in South Jakarta, Novel, who was handcuffed and ordered to wear a detainee's jacket, was transferred to the police's Mobile Brigade (Brimob) headquarters for further questioning. The complex is widely known as a detention centre for suspected terrorists and is located in Depok, West Java.
In 2012, then president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono ordered the police to drop the case against Novel, who was targeted by members of the force following the antigraft body's naming of then head of the National Police Traffic Corps (Korlantas), Insp. Gen. Djoko Susilo, as a graft suspect.
The National Police reopened the case in March this year in the midst of a standoff between the KPK and the National Police after the antigraft body named then National Police education and training division chief Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan a bribery suspect in January.