Jakarta Court Convicts, Sentences 2 Cops in Acid Attack on Corruption Investigator

Arie Firdaus
Jakarta
2020-07-16
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200716_ID_BaswedanTrial_1000.jpg A security officer talks on his mobile phone during the sentencing hearing at the North Jakarta District Court in the trial of police officers Ronny Bugis and Rahmat Kadir Mahulette, who were accused of attacking Indonesian corruption investigator Novel Baswedan with acid, July 16, 2020.
AP

An Indonesian court convicted and sentenced two low-ranking policemen Thursday to two years and 18 months in prison, respectively, for an acid attack that left a corruption investigator blind in one eye, after a trial which the victim himself and rights groups denounced as farcical.

A three-member panel of the North Jakarta District Court found officers Rahmat Kadir Mahulette and Ronny Bugis guilty of committing a premeditated assault on Novel Baswedan, an investigator at the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK). He lost vision in his left eye permanently after acid was thrown in his face during the April 2017 attack.

“The defendants have tarnished the reputation of the police force,” chief judge Djuyamto said in reading out the verdict.

The two officers, who had pled guilty, said they accepted the sentences and would not appeal. Rahmat was sentenced to two years in prison while Ronny was handed an 18-month jail term.

Speaking after the court handed down its verdict, Baswedan said he had not expected justice to come out of the trial of the two men accused of attacking him.

“Even if the sentences were heavy, the trial had been designed to fail,” Baswedan, who did not go to the courthouse to witness the verdict, told BenarNews by phone.

Earlier in the day, the state news agency Antara quoted him as describing the trial as “farcical.”

“Any punishment meted out must be based on objective facts and evidence. We can’t punish people for things they did not do, even if they agree to it,” he said.

The prosecution had sought a one-year sentence for the two, arguing that even though the attack was premeditated, the defendants did not intend to throw the acid on Baswedan’s face. The indictment brought against the two policemen said the motive for the attack was personal, and not linked to Baswedan’s work for the agency tasked with fighting chronic corruption in Indonesia.

Baswedan was investigating cases that implicated senior officials when two unidentified men on a motorcycle attacked him on April 11, 2017.

Human rights groups have called for a new independent investigation, and also denounced the trial as a farce.

Rights activists have questioned the prosecution’s argument that the defendants did not intend to throw acid in Baswedan’s face, but on his body.

In a statement issued Thursday, the Indonesian office of Amnesty International said the trial was riddled with “irregularities.”

Three key witnesses were not called to testify at the trial, even though they were questioned during the investigation, Amnesty noted.

The defendants were also provided with legal assistance by the police force, including a defense lawyer, despite police claims that the two officers were not on duty at the time of the attack, the London-based rights advocacy group said.

Last year, police formed a joint fact-finding team with the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM), consisting of 65 members including 53 police, to investigate the attack on Baswedan.

The team found that it occurred when he was investigating six high profile corruption cases, including a mega-graft case surrounding an electronic ID card project. He was the lead investigator in the embezzlement scandal, which saw more than 2.3 trillion rupiah (U.S. $163 million) disappear from a national project to issue new biometric identity cards.

The scandal led to the political downfall of then-parliamentary Speaker Setya Novanto, who lost the position before being sentenced to 15 years for his role in taking kickbacks.

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