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The Police Special Detachment for Special Interest

Monday, June 3, 2024

A conflict between the Police and the Attorney General's Office involving Densus 88 has weakened legal institutions. It is a violation of the Anti-Terror Law.

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The Special Detachment for Special Interest. tempo : 172126710738.

THE action by two personnel from National Police Counterterrorism Special Detachment (Densus) 88 in stalking Assistant Attorney General for Special Crimes, Febrie Adriansyah shows the misuse of the elite unit for the interests of a small number of people. Ignoring their main duty of tracking down terrorists, they intimidated a law enforcer currently investigating a major corruption case.

Disguised as civilians, two members of Densus 88, one of them 2nd Brig. Iqbal Mustofa, were caught trailing Febrie when he was dining at a French restaurant in Cipete, South Jakarta, on May 19. The military police officers escorting Febrie foiled the espionage operation. Iqbal was detained, while his colleague fled.

A day after the incident in Cipete, the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) building was surveilled by a drone and surrounded by police vehicles with sirens blaring. The building in Jalan Sultan Hasanuddin, South Jakarta, was then put under tight military police guard.

These two incidents indicate serious friction between the Police and the AGO, especially since the questioning of Iqbal revealed a written order reportedly have been signed by Sr. Comr. Muhammad Tedjo Kusumo, Chief of the Central Java Region Densus 88 Counterterrorism Unit. On Iqbal’s mobile phone, military police also found data on Febrie and other senior AGO officials.

This conduct by Densus 88 personnel is a serious violation of Law No. 9/2013 on the Prevention and Eradication of Terrorism. This law states that Densus 88 can only investigate, including using wiretaps, those suspected of terrorist offences.

The intimidation of senior AGO officials might have a connection with the investigation that Febrie and his team are carrying out into alleged corruption related to tin trading in Bangka Belitung. This case involves a number of big names who have close links to active and retired police generals. Among those already named as suspects or questioned by AGO officials are Harvey Moeis, Hendry Lie and Robert Bonosusatya. The AGO claims that the actions of this group have resulted in losses to the state and environmental damage totaling Rp300 trillion.

Densus 88 is led by a two-star general who is appointed by the National Police chief. The written order to Iqbal shows that the stalking was an official action by the institution—not merely the actions of one individual, as the police claim.

Densus 88 has long been criticized. It has been accused of, for example, not following procedure and violating human rights in its actions against terrorists. It has also been used a number of times to carry out discrete operations in the personal interests of a small number of police generals. These relate to various issues, from conflicts with other law enforcement institutions to distracting public opinion from major incidents and vying for important positions within the National Police.

It is easy to interpret the wall of silence from senior police officers, prosecutors, ministers and the president as an endeavor to discreetly resolve these violations. President Joko Widodo said that he has summoned Attorney General Sanitiar Burhanuddin and National Police Chief Gen. Listyo Sigit Prabowo while saying nothing had happened.

The principle of “don’t kick up a fuss” that Jokowi has used when resolving disputes between institutions is a bad practice known as “sweeping things under the carpet.” Lacking the courage to take risks—because of the large number of interests behind the conflict between the Police and the AGO—Jokowi seems to prefer a quiet resolution then to upholding the law.

The President should punish the National Police Chief and Densus 88 Chief while ensuring that the AGO investigation into the alleged tin corruption proceeds without any interference. He must also ensure that prosecutors do not get up to dirty tricks. Before this incident took place, there was a report that Febrie Adriansyah has been involved in the irregularities over confiscated state assets at the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).

The systematic destruction of law enforcement institutions during the 10 years of Jokowi’s administration has now borne fruit. After paralyzing the KPK, now he is allowing the AGO and the Police to be caught up in a conflict over the backing of a small number of people.

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