Don’t Stop with Nurhadi
Public need the KPK to uncover the justice mafia. The commission has to arrest fugitives with political protection.
THE arrest of former Supreme Court secretary Nurhadi Abdurrachman is clearly a success for Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) investigators that is worthy of appreciation. But the detention of Nurhadi will not immediately ease concerns about the state of the KPK, which is now led by people chosen by President Joko Widodo.
The team of investigators under the leadership of Novel Baswedan detained Nurhadi and his son-in-law, Rezky Herbiyono, at a luxury house in Jalan Simprug Golf, South Jakarta on the night of Monday June 1. The arrest was a ray of hope at a time of declining public trust in the KPK. It seems there are still some investigators striving to preserve the self-respect of the anti-corruption agency—after it was stripped of so much of its authority by the government and political parties in the parliament.
Nurhadi is no minor figure. At his peak, he was allegedly the mastermind behind the network that bought and sold verdicts and wrecked our justice system. The Judicial Commission, anti-corruption activists and attorneys often mentioned Nurhadi’s name when whispering about the ‘mafia’ at the Supreme Court. For at least the last five years, the KPK has been tracking Nurhadi’s nefarious activities in a number of cases where money allegedly changed hands in relation to court verdicts. However, the efforts of KPK investigators to detain him failed repeatedly because details of their moves were leaked, the chain of bribery transactions was broken or because he was protected so well. But even though he was good at escaping, in the end he was caught.
While the skill of Novel Baswedan and his colleagues deserves appreciation, it is right to question the seriousness of the KPK leadership in tracking down Nurhadi. The operation to detain him was successful only because it was kept secret, and only one person in the KPK leadership knew about it. If all the leadership had known about the planned operation—as was subsequently claimed by KPK Chairman Firli Bahuri—the outcome could have been different.
Moreover, the success of the effort to arrest Nurhadi cannot be separated from the change in the political constellation outside the KPK. When his house was searched by the KPK in 2016, there were indications that Nurhadi was still able to ask for protection from a number of senior police officers. Now, some of Nurhadi’s protectors seemed to have abandoned him. Even the police reportedly decided to ‘abstain’ this time when they learned that the KPK was to search Nurhadi’s home. Of course, this decision by the police to abstain should also be questioned. As part of the law enforcement apparatus, the police should have fully supported the KPK team that wanted to arrest Nurhadi.
Now Nurhadi is in the KPK detention center. But this should not be the end of the story because in the case buying and selling network, Nurhadi did not work alone. He did not pass verdicts on cases. There were bound to have been clerks, judges and other individuals involved. Therefore, the KPK should use Nurhadi as a way into exposing the network from top to bottom. Of course, before this, the KPK must ensure that the charge sheet against Nurhadi is free from any intervention or political bargaining.
Aside from Nurhadi, the KPK is still looking for fugitives linked to other corruption cases, especially those obtaining support from particular political forces. If it can arrest a person as strong as Nurhadi for example, the KPK should also be able to detain Harun Masiku, a fugitive connected with the bribery case involving the selection of a member of the House of Representatives from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P). However, we must remember that the current KPK leadership did not come from the best candidates. And the law no longer guarantees that the KPK is an independent agency. Therefore, we cannot entertain high hopes that this time the commission will be able to strike its best blows to eradicate corruption