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Cablegate: Saga Ends for Anti-Corruption Commissioners

VZCZCXRO3870
OO RUEHDT RUEHPB
DE RUEHJA #1967 3351117
ZNR UUUUU ZZH
O 011117Z DEC 09
FM AMEMBASSY JAKARTA
TO RUEHC/SECSTATE WASHDC IMMEDIATE 3955
INFO RUCNARF/ASEAN REGIONAL FORUM COLLECTIVE PRIORITY
RUEAIIA/CIA WASHDC
RHEHNSC/NSC WASHDC
RHEFDIA/DIA WASHINGTON DC

UNCLAS JAKARTA 001967

SIPDIS

DEPT FOR EAP, EAP/MTS, EAP/MLS, EAP/RSP
NSC FOR D. WALTON

E.O. 12958: N/A
TAGS: PGOV KDEM SNAR ID
SUBJECT: SAGA ENDS FOR ANTI-CORRUPTION COMMISSIONERS

REF: A. JAKARTA 01950
B. JAKARTA 1946 AND PREVIOUS

1. (SBU) This cable is sensitive but unclassified. Please
handle accordingly.

2. (SBU) SUMMARY: In the face of mounting public outrage,
Indonesia's Attorney General's Office dropped charges of
extortion and abuse of power on December 1 against suspended
Corruption Eradication Commission deputies Bibit Rianto and
Chandra Hamzah. President Yudhoyono will also reinstate them
as commissioners. The Bibit-Chandra case has dominated
headlines for months as evidence grew that some police and
prosecutors may have framed them to deter their graft
investigations. The case has shaken public confidence in the
Yudhoyono administration's ability to tackle corruption by
revealing severe tensions among the three law agencies and
highlighting the urgent need for institutional reform. END
SUMMARY.

PROSECUTOR'S OFFICE DROPS CHARGES

3. (SBU) On December 1, the Attorney General's office
(AGO) announced that it was dropping charges of abuse of
power and extortion against Bibit Samad Rianto and Chandra M.
Hamzah, deputies at the Corruption Eradication Commission
(KPK). Deputy Attorney General for Special Crimes Marwan
Effendi stated that they were dropping the case in the
interest of harmony between the law agencies.

4. (SBU) Prosecutors had initially charged Bibit and
Chandra with receiving bribes from businessman Anggoro
Widjojo to stop investigations of his company for fraud, but
due to lack of evidence, changed the charge to extortion.
They also charged them with abusing their powers through
wiretapping and travel bans. When the Constitutional Court
played one of the wiretapped conversations, however, it
appeared that some police, prosecutors, and Widjojo's younger
brother Anggodo had fabricated charges against Bibit and
Chandra. Civil society and the media demanded that the
charges be dropped. In the midst of the public furor,
President Yudhoyono announced (see reftel) that the law
agencies could use their discretion to close the cases.

SAGA OVER FOR BIBIT AND CHANDRA BUT TENSIONS CONTINUE

5. (SBU) Although the saga is over for Bibit and
Chandra, who will get their jobs as deputies back by
presidential decree, the case has revealed tensions among the
three law enforcement agencies over different interpretations
of their roles and powers. Referring to the abuse of power
charges, Deputy Attorney General Effendi insisted that the
charges of abuse of power "were valid" under the articles of
the anti-corruption law (i.e. that the KPK could not
unilaterally wirttap or issue travel bans). (Note: The AGO
and pl(ice legally must exercise these powers in conjunciion
with the courts.) He acknowledged, however, h(at since this
was considered "a normal procedure" at the KPK, the suspects
were "unaware of any voolations". As this "was commonly
practiced by te ir predecessors", he felt that their case
couldnnot be effectively prosecuted. Moreover, he notedt hat
the public wanted charges to be dropped because it believes
the deputies should continue thei fight against corruption.

URGENT NEED FOR REFORM

6. (SBU) The Bibit-Chandra case has also highlighted the
urgent need for reform. Some steps have been taken toward
this with their reinstatement and the replacement of
allegedly tainted officials in the police and prosecutor's
office. As Bibit and Chandra take up their duties again, the
KPK is re-opening their investigation into Bank Century which
will parallel a Parliamentary inquiry into that case (see
septel). It remains to be seen, however, how effective
Indonesia's anti-corruption efforts will be with the
credibility of the major law institutions hobbled, a weaker
KPK, and a Yudhoyono administration attempting to weather its
loss of face.
HUME

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