Two policemen jailed over acid attack on Indonesian graft buster

Novel Baswedan, Senior Investigator of Indonesia’s anti-graft agency who had acid flung in his face in 2017, reacts during an interview at Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) headquarters in Jakarta, December 6, 2019. — Reuters pic
Novel Baswedan, Senior Investigator of Indonesia’s anti-graft agency who had acid flung in his face in 2017, reacts during an interview at Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) headquarters in Jakarta, December 6, 2019. — Reuters pic

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JAKARTA, July 16 — Two Indonesian police officers were jailed today for partially blinding a top corruption investigator in an acid attack that sparked widespread anger in the graft-riddled Southeast Asian nation.

A Jakarta court handed Ronny Bugis and Rahmat Kadir Mahulette one-and-a-half and two-year prison sentences, respectively, after convicting them of the 2017 attack on Novel Baswedan, a senior member of Indonesia’s Corruption Eradication Commission.

Baswedan, 43, was set upon in the capital as he walked home from a mosque following early morning prayers.

The sentences were longer than the one-year jail terms sought by prosecutors — slammed by critics as too lenient.

But the court ruled that the officers tried to scare Baswedan rather than cause serious injury, saying they had sought to “teach him a lesson”.

Anti-graft investigators in Indonesia — considered by some watchdogs to be among the world’s most corrupt countries — have been targeted in the past, including with threats and violent attacks.

Before today’s ruling, rights groups and Baswedan himself — who was permanently blinded in one eye — derided the hearing as a show trial and said key evidence was not presented, including some eyewitness testimony.

“There was an effort to create the perception that the attack was a personal one instead of an attack on a graft investigator,” Baswedan told AFP today before the sentencing.

“What we’ve seen so far is more theatre than a proper legal process.”

In an earlier interview with AFP, Baswedan said he suspected senior police officials were behind his attack. He did not identify them.

Last year, rights activists slammed a six-month-long investigation that had failed to identify those behind the attack or a possible motive.

But the government-appointed team said it was likely linked to one of six high-profile corruption cases Baswedan was probing, including a government project to issue new ID cards that allegedly saw about US$170 million pilfered from government coffers. — AFP

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