Former anti-graft chief says KPK leadership is ‘obstructing justice’

CNN Indonesia – April 12, 2019
Former KPK chiefs Bambang Widjojanto (left) and Abraham Samad (Tribune)
Former KPK chiefs Bambang Widjojanto (left) and Abraham Samad (Tribune)

Jakarta – Former Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) chief Bambang Widjojanto says that the petition signed by KPK staff citing obstacles faced in indicting ‘big fish’ indicates an attempt to obstruct justice by officials within the KPK and elements of the commission’s leadership.

“This is not just an issue of integrity, because it is obvious that obstruction of justice is taking place. There are strong indications of an effort aimed at obstructing the examination process of current and future [investigations] being carried out by KPK investigators and criminal investigators”, said Widjojanto in a written press release on Thursday April 11.

According to Widjojanto, it is absolutely appalling that this is occurring inside the anti-graft institution. He even likened it to the KPK being in its death throes from an internal siege.

“It’s like [the KPK] is in its death throes from an internal siege. The parties or perpetrators who it is suggested are obstructing justice are in fact alleged to be structural officials and from elements of the KPK’s own leadership”, said Widjojanto.

Widjojanto stated that obstruction of justice is subject to legal articles which covers the leadership and structural officials within the KPK. They are regulated under Article 21 of Law Number 31/1999 on Corruption in conjunction with Law Number 20/2001 on the Eradication of Corruption.

“If the KPK leadership intentionally blocks, obstructs or undermines, directly or indirectly, a criminal investigation, a prosecution or the examination in court of a suspect or a defendant they are subject to [prosecution under] these articles”, he said.

According to Widjojanto if the problem’s not resolved immediately, then the KPK leadership could potentially be accused of intentionally destroying the KPK’s dignity and respect. Yet, he said, up until now this dignity and respect has been built with great effort by everyone in the KPK.

“If it’s true that there are structural officials who are found guilty of alleged ethical violations, there are no grounds for the KPK leadership not to immediately take action against them. If not, then the KPK leadership is not just committing an injustice but could also be accused of participating in the crime themselves”, he explained.

Speaking in the same vein, former KPK chairperson Abraham Samad believes that the petition signed by KPK staff and addressed to the KPK leadership is evidence of an unfavourable internal environment. Samad suggests that the leadership quickly resolve the issue.

“So I suggest that the KPK leadership should not be too weak in resolving the problems that exist, because any delays by the KPK will carry with it uncertainly for all KPK staff”, explained Samad speaking at an event commemorating two years since the unsolved acid attack on KPK investigator Novel Baswedan at the KPK Red-and-White building on Thursday April 11.

Samad suspects that on the one hand there have been violations against the code of ethics committed within the KPK which have caused anxiety among KPK staff. Meanwhile on the other hand, he believes that there has been no meaningful action by the KPK leadership to follow up and overcome the problem.

Samad suggests that the next step should be conducting a code of ethics hearing and opening it up to the public. A code of ethics hearing, according to Samad, could reveal what is actually happening including the issue of the alleged leaking of information on investigations.

“I think that a code of ethics hearing will be very decisive in revealing what is actually happening and it must be open to the public”, said Samad.

Earlier the KPK leadership held a meeting with staff to discuss a petition signed by 114 KPK investigators on problems they are facing with prosecutions.

In the petition the KPK staff poured out their anxieties because over the last year the Deputy for Enforcement division has encountered obstacles in unraveling and expanding cases at higher levels, ie senior officials or big fish.

KPK spokesperson Febri Diansyah has confirmed that they have received the petition and asserted that any and all technical obstacles related to investigations will be addressed and heard directly by the KPK leadership. (SAH/ain)


In January 2015 the national police launched a witch hunt against the KPK after it named President Joko Widodo’s nominee for the new national police chief, General Budi Gunawan (a member of Megawati Sukarnoputri’s inner circle), a suspect in a corruption case. The police subsequently arrested KPK leaders Bambang Widjojanto and Abraham Samad – known for their aggressive prosecution of corrupt officials, judges, generals and politicians – on a variety trumped up charges. In late 2015 Widodo “suspended” Widjojanto and Samad on the grounds that they were facing criminal charges (which the police later dropped) and replaced them with more “compliant” interim chiefs which anti-graft activists said had dubious records on fighting graft and would weaken the highly respected commission’s fight against corruption. Since then the KPK has been accused of only going after lower-level officials and with a few exceptions failing to pursue cases against senior government officials and politicians.

[Translated by James Balowski. The original title of the article was “BW Sebut Petisi Pegawai Pertanda Sakaratul Maut Internal KPK”.]