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Indonesian police to sue magazine over pig cover
Thu, Jul 01, 2010
AFP

JAKARTA, July 1, 2010 (AFP) - Indonesian police will sue a news magazine over a story on corruption because the cover depicted an officer with piggy banks, and pigs are considered dirty in Islam, the police chief said Thursday.

The threat of legal action against the publishers of Tempo magazine, a respected Indonesian and English-language weekly, came days after it ran an in-depth feature on alleged police graft and embezzlement.

National police chief Bambang Hendarso Danuri did not respond to the corruption allegations but said officers had been "hurt" and angered by the report, particularly the piggy banks on the cover.

He claimed that the magazine had depicted police as pigs, when in fact the cover shows a graphic of a uniformed officer with three piggy banks on leashes made of yellow crime-scene tape.

"The fact that we are illustrated as pigs hurts us a lot," Danuri told reporters after attending a service to mark the 64th anniversary of the establishment of the mainly Muslim country's police force.

"Don't illustrate us like that. We'll try to prevent our personnel from being angry because they were illustrated as pigs, which is haram (forbidden). This will definitely provoke our personnel," he added.

The June 28 edition of Tempo explored evidence of embezzlement among senior officers, some of whom were allegedly found to have millions of dollars in bank accounts.

The Indonesian police force is seen as one of the most corrupt institutions in one of the most corrupt countries in the world. It also stands accused of torture and abuse including against political prisoners and women.

US-based lobby group Human Rights Watch said in a report in May that Indonesia's criminal libel and defamation laws were increasingly being used to intimidate whistle-blowers and silence critics of powerful institutions.

Tempo earlier revealed that mysterious buyers who looked like undercover police officers had bought hundreds of thousands of copies of this week's edition directly from distributors before dawn on Monday.

"Copies for retail sales have vanished and many major distributors have complained," it said on its website.

Police angrily denied suggestions they had bought the copies in a bid to prevent the corruption story - the latest in a seemingly endless line of allegations against the force - from reaching the public.

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