Says cover of police with pigs is offensive in Islam
Indonesian police will sue a news magazine over a story on corruption [purportedly] because the cover depicted an officer with piggy banks, and pigs are dirty in Islam. But the June 28 edition of Tempo explored evidence of embezzlement among senior officers, some of whom were allegedly found to have millions of dollars in bank accounts. Unidentified buyers bought hundreds of thousands of copies of this week’s edition directly from distributors before dawn on Monday. See below for full story on police corruption by Tempo Magazine that prompted seizure.
The threat of legal action against the publishers of Tempo magazine, a respected Indonesian and English-language weekly, came days after it ran an in-depth feature on alleged police graft and embezzlement.
National police chief Bambang Hendarso Danuri did not respond to the corruption allegations but said officers had been “hurt” and angered by the report, particularly the piggy banks on the cover.
He claimed that the magazine had depicted police as pigs, when in fact the cover shows a graphic of a uniformed officer with three piggy banks on leashes made of yellow crime-scene tape.
“The fact that we are illustrated as pigs hurts us a lot,” the chief said after attending a service to mark the 64th anniversary of the establishment of the mainly Muslim country’s police force.
“Don’t illustrate us like that. We’ll try to prevent our personnel from being angry because they were illustrated as pigs, which is haram (forbidden). This will definitely provoke our personnel.”
The June 28 edition of Tempo explored evidence of embezzlement among senior officers, some of whom were allegedly found to have millions of dollars in bank accounts.
The Indonesian police force is seen as one of the most corrupt institutions in one of the most corrupt countries in the world. It also stands accused of torture and abuse including against political prisoners and women.
US-based lobby group Human Rights Watch said in a report [Indonesia: Prosecuting Political Aspiration; Indonesia’s Political Prisoners, June 22, 2010] that Indonesia’s criminal libel and defamation laws were increasingly being used to intimidate whistle-blowers and silence critics of powerful institutions.
Tempo earlier revealed that mysterious buyers who looked like undercover police officers had bought hundreds of thousands of copies of this week’s edition directly from distributors before dawn on Monday.
“Copies for retail sales have vanished and many major distributors have complained,” it said on its website.
Police angrily denied suggestions they had bought the copies in a bid to prevent the corruption story – the latest in a seemingly endless line of allegations against the force – from reaching the public.
COTO Ed Note: See below for full story on police corruption by Tempo Magazine that prompted seizure:
Police in a Poke
By Setri Yasra, Wahyu Dhyatmika, Cheta Nilawaty, Tia Hapsari and Abdul Rahman
A number of senior police officers were reported for conducting suspicious financial transactions. Originating from unclear sources, tens of billions of rupiah were deposited in their bank accounts, some of them under their children’s or their adjutants’ accounts.
HIS hands inside the pocket of his long-sleeved batik shirt, Commissioner-General Ito Sumardi asked, “What is the salary of a three-star general like me?” Smilingly, the Chief of the National Police Crime Investigation Unit, answered his own question, “Just nine million rupiah a month, plus some perks.” [about $990 USD]
Ito added that the National Police Chief, the institution’s top official, only received a salary of about Rp23 million a month, plus benefits [~$2500 USD]. In handling criminal cases, he continued, the police only receive a budget of Rp20 million [~$2000 USD] per case. Each sector in the police department—the police unit at the district level—is only given a budget for two cases a year. “For the rest we must find our own budgeting,” said Inspector-General Dikdik Mulyana, Deputy Chief of the Crime Investigation Unit, who accompanied Ito during the interview with Tempo, on Friday last week.
Ito was not lamenting, but explaining the “internal affairs” of those police officers in order to fend off the charges being made against some senior officers with suspicious bank accounts. A document which contains the financial flows of some top cops had been circulating among the police brass and had become the stuff of gossip at Trunojoyo—where National Police Headquarters is located. Reportedly, this document is a summary of the findings from the Financial Transactions Reporting & Analysis Center (PPATK). Natsir Kongah, a PPATK spokesman, refused to comment on this matter. “I cannot confirm this because that is the jurisdiction of the investigators,” he said, on Thursday last week.
According to those documents, six high-ranking police officers and some mid-grade officers committed “transactions which were not in line with their profiles,” or in other words were much higher than their monthly salaries. The largest transactions involved a bank account belonging to Inspector-General Budi Gunawan, Chief of the Police’s Profession and Security Division. In 2006, through his personal account and the account of his son, this former adjutant of President Megawati Soekarnoputri received deposits of Rp54 billion [~$6 million USD] from, among others, a property business company.
This same list has the name of, among others, Commissioner-General Susno Duadji, former Head of the Criminal Investigation Unit who is currently being held as a suspect in a corruption case. There is also the East Kalimantan Police Chief, Inspector-General Mathius Salempang, former Head of the Mobile Brigade Corps, Inspector-General Sylvanus Yulian Wenas, Inspector-General Bambang Suparno, Senior Commissioner Edward Syah Pernong, and Commissioner Umar Leha.
When asked to confirm the names of the police generals linked to those bank accounts, Ito Sumardi did not directly verify it. He said those officers were on a list of 21 officers with suspicious bank accounts. He said that he had been ordered by National Police Chief, General Bambang Hendarso Danuri to clarify the involvement of the officers. “This is reverse burden of proof, so the burden falls on them to explain the origins of the transactions,” he said.
A story about anomalous bank accounts belonging to police generals once appeared at the end of July 2005. At that time, 15 senior police officers were suspected of having questionable bank balances. As spelled out in a document submitted by Yunus Husein, chief of the PPATK to General Sutanto, then the National Police Chief, a number of top cops were suspected of receiving large sums of money from inappropriate sources. It was reported that one bank account held Rp800 billion [~ $88 million USD]. However, this case seemed to get scant attention and instead, could just disappear.
ONE building is visibly larger than the others. Located on Jalan M. Kahfi I in Jagakarsa, South Jakarta, there is the main house, three additional houses, and one building for security guards, all of which stand on 3,000 square meters of land.
There is a 2-meter-high carving of the letter “B” which sits in the yard. The water in the rather large swimming pool in the backyard sparkles from the sunshine. The neighbors call this building the “house of Pak Kapolda (Regional Police Chief)”. This is the home of Inspector-General Badrodin Haiti, who was once North Sumatra Police Chief.
Badrodin, who is currently Head of the Police’s Legal Affairs & Guidance Division, is one of a number of high-ranking police officers who committed some suspicious financial transactions. According to a Tempo source, Badrodin purchased a PT Prudential Life Assurance insurance policy with a premium of Rp1.1 billion [$119 million USD]. Reportedly, the cash used to pay the premium came from a third party.
Badrodin, who was Medan Police Chief from 2000 to 2003, also withdrew Rp700 million [$76 million USD] in cash from Bank Central Asia at the Bukit Barisan Branch in Medan, in May 2006. This transaction, said the source, was seen to be “not in line with his job profile.” This is because Badrodin’s monthly income was about Rp22 million [$22 million USD], consisting of a Rp6 million salary [$647,000 USD], Rp6 million in business income, and Rp10 million [$1 million USD] from investment activity.
The findings from an analysis of Badrodin’s bank account also mentioned that there were routine monthly deposits of Rp50 million [$5 million USD] from January 2004-July 2005. There were also deposits of Rp120-343 million [$12-37 million USD]. This report also mentioned that these deposits did not have clear underlying transactions.
When asked for confirmation, Badrodin Haiti said that he was not authorized to speak. “That is fully the authority of the Chief of the Crime Investigation Unit,” he said. Commissioner-General Ito Sumardi said that his team was still waiting for some additional documents from Badrodin.
Some peculiarities were also found with the bank accounts of Wenas, Bambang Suparno, Mathius Salempang, and Susno Duadji, as well as with some mid-grade police officers. Such indications appeared with Wenas’s bank account in 2005, when he was Chief of the East Kalimantan Police Department. On 9 August, Rp10.007 billion [$1 billion USD] was moved from Wenas’s account to the bank account of an individual who claims to be a director of PT Hinroyal Golden Wing. Since first opening the account, Wenas’s banking transactions have only consisted of incoming transfers from other parties, without any outgoing business transactions .
Wenas has quite a glamorous profile. He has a luxurious home at the Areman Baru Housing Complex in Tugu which sits on a thousand square meters of land. Three years ago the Wenas family moved to a house in the Pesona Khayangan Housing Complex in Depok. Tempo, who visited the Wenas home in this elite housing complex in Depok, on Thursday last week, saw two Toyota Alphards and one Toyota Camry sedan parked in the front yard.
Speaking to Tempo in an interview, Wenas rejected the accusation of making illegal transactions through his bank account. “All of that is untrue,” he said. “Those are not my funds.”
It turns out that Susno Duadji, who had been keen on exposing the judiciary mafia practices at his institution, also has a suspicious transaction. This former chief of the Crime Investigation Unit accepted a transfer of funds from a business person with the initials JS in the amount of Rp2.62 billion [$282 million USD]. He also received funds from a businessperson with the initials AS and also from IZM (Head of the Bengkulu Public Works Office). From 2007-2009, Susno accepted Rp3.97 billion [$428 million USD] from those three individuals. In connection with this flow of funds, National Police Headquarters has named JS a criminal suspect.
Muhammad Assegaf, Susno’s lawyer, said that he never discussed the matter of suspicious transactions on the part of his client. On various occasions before being detained, Susno repeatedly denied making any transactions which violated regulations. “All of those transactions are civil law matters,” he said.
In addition to some top officers, similar startling transactions had also been done by police officers in the lower ranks. For instance, Umar Leha, last holding the rank of senior commissioner and who once served 12 years as Section Head for Motor Vehicle License Units at the South Sulawesi Police Department.
According to a Tempo source, in June 2005 Umar had Rp4.5 billion [$485 million], which was saved in the form of mutual funds and a fixed deposit account in Bank Mandiri. It is suspected that the source of these funds, according to transaction analysis, were deposits connected with the administration of motor vehicle licenses.
In Makassar, Umar owns two large houses and four automobiles. Two years ago this police officer became a candidate in the election of the Regent of Enrekang, South Sulawesi. To do so, he resigned from the police department with the final rank of adjunct senior commissioner. He did not win that regional election.
Umar denied the charge of misusing while on duty. He said that he never directly handled state funds originating from the administration of motor vehicle licenses, “Let alone taking any,” he said. “I really wouldn’t dare to abuse this trust.”
Even the bank account of Edward Syah Pernong, the Semarang Police Chief, has invited suspicion. According to a Tempo source, while he was West Jakarta Police Chief, he received deposits of Rp470 million and Rp442 million [$51 and $48 million] in August and September 2005 from Deutsche Bank. On 15 September 2005, he closed the account with a final balance of Rp5.39 billion [$572 million USD]. Edward questioned from where those funds came from. “That data is a lie. It is slander,” he told Tempo reporter Sohirin in Semarang, on Thursday last week. Ito Sumardi said that he does not question Edward’s wealth. “He is a like a king in Lampung. He has a large palm oil plantation,” said Ito.
Even though denials are coming in from all corners, Adnan Pandupradja, a member of the Police Commission, feels that the Police Chief must give serious attention to the report containing questionable transactions. Without a clear examination of those bank accounts, he said, the image of the police department will only get worse.
Neta S. Pane, Head of Indonesia Police Watch, encourages reverse burden of proof mechanism for officers whose bank accounts are under suspicion. He agreed that police generals who have abundant wealth need to be questioned. He added, “If they only live off their salaries, even until doomsday they will never get rich.”
And see July 1 update, Anti-graft Commission Adds Pressure to Investigate Police Fat Accounts:
Coalition of anti-graft groups have added pressure on the government to hand over investigation of enormous bank accounts owned by top police officers from the police to the Corruption Eradication Commission, which has revived police versus media dispute in Indonesia.
Read full story here.