Indonesia police detain deputy chief of anti-graft body, sparking tension

Reuters News
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Posted: Jan 23, 2015 2:08 AM

By Kanupriya Kapoor

JAKARTA (Reuters) - Indonesian police on Friday detained the deputy chief of the anti-graft agency over a false testimony case in 2010, raising tensions between two law enforcement bodies that have long had strained relations.

The detention comes a week after the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) named three-star police general Budi Gunawan as a bribery suspect, a move that forced President Joko Widodo to delay his appointment as the next police chief.

The apparent tit-for-tat actions reignite a rivalry between the graft-tainted police and the KPK, an independent agency that has gained popularity for being a thorn in the side of Indonesia's establishment.

Resolving the situation will prove an early test for Widodo, who took office in October pledging a clean government, and is expected to make a statement later on Friday.

Police named KPK deputy Bambang Widjojanto a suspect in a case involving false testimony to the Constitutional Court when he was a lawyer in 2010.

"This is based on the results of an investigation where investigators found three pieces of valid evidence, including testimony from witnesses, documents and expert testimony," police spokesman Ronny Sompie told reporters.

Widjojanto's detention was not linked to the KPK, Sompie added.

But KPK supporters took to social media to protest the action, calling it retaliation for the agency's action in naming Gunawan as a suspect.

Dozens of people began to gather outside the anti-graft agency's headquarters in Jakarta to show support, holding signs that read, "I am KPK".

On Jan. 10 Widodo named Gunawan as his sole pick for police chief in a decision immediately criticized by anti-graft fighters as the general was under investigation for bribery.

A few days later KPK, which has a perfect record of convictions, named Gunawan a suspect.

Gunawan, now the head of police training, is popular with the political elite and is close to former president Megawati Sukarnoputri, the leader of Widodo's political party.

Parliament approved Gunawan's nomination, despite his having been named a KPK suspect. But Widodo has delayed appointing him, due to the mounting controversy, and instead named an interim police chief.

Widodo said he had chosen Gunawan on a recommendation from the National Police Commission.

In 2012, police tried to arrest KPK's lead investigator soon after the anti-graft agency questioned the police inspector general for bribery.

The police eventually backed down after hundreds of KPK supporters barricaded the agency's entrance to block the arrest.

(Additional reporting by Gayatri Suroyo and Dennys Kapa; Writing by Randy Fabi; Editing by Clarence Fernandez)