Commission investigates rich cop's lenient sentence

JAKARTA - The Judicial Commission (KY) has launched a probe into a low-ranking police officer convicted of controlling illegal logging and fuel smuggling businesses, which had netted him billions of rupiah.

Commission chairman Suparman Marzuki on Thursday questioned the Sorong District Court's decision to acquit Adj. First. Insp. Labora Sitorus from money laundering charges, despite the evidence that up to Rp 1.5 trillion (S$161 million) in suspicious funds had been deposited in his bank accounts.

"We are now trying to obtain copies of the verdict," Suparman said.

On Monday, a panel of judges, led by Martinus Bala, found Sitorus guilty of violating multiple articles of the 2004 Forestry Law and the 2001 Oil and Gas Law. Aside from two years in prison, the court ordered him to pay Rp 50 million in fines.

Suparman said that the judges could have made an erroneous decision, or the prosecutors' failed to present strong-enough evidence.

"We will focus on the judges' decision-making process, but will also check the indictment. We need to have a comprehensive view of the matter," he continued.

The jail sentence was lighter than the prosecutors' demand of 15 years' imprisonment and a fine of Rp 100 million under the Forestry Law, Oil and Gas Law and the 2010 Money Laundering Law.

Sitorus made headlines in May last year following a Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (PPATK) report stating that suspicious bank transactions of Rp 1.5 trillion had been registered under his name between 2007 and 2012.

An investigation, led by the National Police's special economic crimes division, revealed that Sitorus, with the help from family and friends, controlled companies that illegally traded timber and subsidized fuel.

"The money gained from these businesses was transferred to companies and individuals through banking accounts […] those transactions violated articles 3 and 4 [of the Money Laundering Law]," Brig. Gen. Arief Sulistyanto, the police's special economic crimes director, said on Wednesday.

Former PPATK chairman Yunus Husein, who assisted the police in its investigation, said that the judges should have accepted the money laundering charges.

"If there is a transaction using the proceeds of crime, it is money laundering. Maybe the prosecutors failed to prove it, or the judges were unsure," he said.

Indonesian Police Watch (IPW) chair, Neta S. Pane, suspected if the police had been reluctant to prosecute Sitorus as it would also implicate others on the force.

Moments before his arrest, Sitorus told National Police Commission (Kompolnas) members that he wired money for "charity-related programs" to several of his superiors.

An investigation conducted by IPW found that Sitorus paid bribes totaling Rp 10.95 billion to 33 officials at the Papua Police and the National Police between January 2012 and March 2013.

National Police corruption crimes director Brig. Gen. Idham Azis, who is in charge of tracing Sitorus' money, declined to give an immediate comment on the progress of his investigation into the recipients of Sitorus' charitable munificence.