Finding The Mastermind
There have been a number of irregularities in the trial over the attack on Novel Baswedan. The judge needs to summon the former Greater Jakarta Police chief.
IT is difficult to hope that the North Jakarta District Court will be able to clear away the fog surrounding the attack on Novel Baswedan. Instead of working hard to discover the mastermind behind the acid attack on the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) investigator, the prosecution and judges seem to be reluctant to uncover the key facts related to the April 11, 2017 incident. The trial has become more of a stage to reduce the punishment for the two accused, Pol. Brig. Rahmat Kadir Mahulette and Pol. Brig. Ronny Bugis.
For example, in the trial session on Wednesday, May 6, the public prosecutor did not call key witnesses who would have been able to clearly relate the chronology of the attack on Novel. Two people who clearly saw the perpetrators watching Novel several days before the incident were not even on the list of witnesses. This is despite the fact that these witnesses gave repeated statements to the police and helped produce a sketch of the attackers. Their testimony could show that the attack on Novel was planned, systematic and coordinated.
The endeavor to cover up the facts was apparent from the beginning of the trial on March 19. On the charge sheet, the prosecution stated that the two suspects were only charged with serious assault, and did not exclude the possibility that the attack was linked to the major corruption cases that Novel was working on. The prosecution also ignored the investigation by the Novel case fact-finding team that had worked for six months from January 2019. This team, which was established by the then National Police Chief Gen. Tito Karnavian found that there were six high profile cases, including the corruption relating to the electronic ID cards (e-KTP) and bribery related to the athletes village, that were suspected to be linked to the attack on Novel.
This is not all. The prosecution weakened Novel’s position by stating that the liquid thrown over him was battery fluid, not acid. However, anyone can see the effect of this fluid: Novel has lost his sight on one eye. The suspect’s defense team made use of this halfhearted prosecution to attack Novel by repeating the old story from social media that Novel was wearing a contact lens, in other words pretending that his eye was damaged.
The judges panel could correct the stance of the prosecution and the defense attorneys. They could summons key witnesses and uncover the complete chain of events. It is highly likely there would be new testimony from key witnesses not named in the investigation report or the charge sheet. These summonses are necessary to address the public suspicions that the mastermind between behind the attack on Novel will never be found.
If it is serious in its desire to discover the mastermind, the panel of judges could follow up the statement by Novel who quoted former greater Jakarta Police chief Mochamad Iriawan regarding the involvement of a general in this incident. Iriawan’s testimony could be the first move in identifying the mysterious mastermind.
The judges should not try to hastily finish the trial by ruling that the hearings be held twice a week. Forcing the trial to a rapid ending, yet alone in the middle of the coronavirus pandemic, is very unwise. It will not only adversely affect the quality of the trial, but could also put an end to any hopes of uncovering the main perpetrator.
The North Jakarta District Court should not simply follow the scenario created by certain people who do not want the mastermind behind the attack on Novel uncovered. This case is more than just about Novel himself. A fair verdict in court will restore a fraction of the public’s faith in the anticorruption movement.