Budi Sutrisno, Jakarta – The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has confirmed that it has stopped preliminary investigations for 36 cases, raising skepticism over the performance of the country's leading antigraft agency under its new leadership.
KPK acting spokesperson Ali Fikri said the antigraft body had considered "carefully and responsibly" before making the decision.
"Some cases had been worked on since 2011. They also did not fulfill requirements to be processed further, such as lacking preliminary evidence, not identified as an act of corruption and other reasons that can be legally accounted for," Ali said in a statement on Thursday.
He added that the terminated cases had been quite diverse, namely allegations of corruption lodged against regional heads, state-owned enterprise (SOE) executives, law enforcement officials, high-ranking officials of ministries and other state bodies, as well as members of the legislative body.
However, the spokesperson said that such termination was not unusual as the antigraft body had terminated hundreds of cases since its establishment.
"In the last five years, the KPK has terminated the investigation of 162 cases," said Ali.
During a preliminary investigation, KPK investigators are tasked with determining whether a case involves an act of corruption. They are also required to gather sufficient and strong evidence before deciding whether to continue the investigation or name any graft suspect in the case. Otherwise, the investigation should be terminated.
Article 40 of Law No. 30/2002 on the KPK prohibits the antigraft body from stopping a case at the investigation or prosecution stage; prompting investigators to ensure that all cases at the preliminary stage have strong evidence.
The provision, however, was revised in the 2019 KPK Law, allowing the antigraft body to terminate an investigation and prosecution of a graft case if they have not been completed within two years.
"Our investigators are still required to handle graft cases carefully," Ali said.
The Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) has condemned the investigation termination, doubting whether the antigraft body had carried out case screenings for each case before finally deciding to terminate them.
"KPK leaders should not get trapped into committing abuse of power in deciding investigation terminations because the cases allegedly involve important people, such as regional leaders, law enforcers and legislative members," ICW activist Wana Alamsyah said in a statement on Thursday.
"Moreover, the KPK chairman is an active police officer, so it is feared that there has been a conflict of interest," he went on to say, referring to the antigraft body's current chairman, Firli Bahuri, a three-star police general.
Wana highlighted the number of terminated cases, saying that the KPK had on average terminated two cases every month in five years. However, the number spiked to 36 cases two months after the new leaders were inaugurated.
"When we look deeper into the matter, the current leadership has yet to start an investigation," he said.
The KPK recently arrested Saiful Ilah, the regent of Sidoarjo in East Java, as well as General Elections Commission (KPU) commissioner Wahyu Setiawan last month. However, the investigation of both cases started during the tenure of previous chairman Agus Rahardjo.
The ICW quoted a survey by Jakarta-based pollster Alvara Research Center on Feb. 12 that showed public satisfaction toward the current KPK leadership had plunged.
"With the large number of cases terminated in the preliminary investigation process, it reinforces the public's notion that the KPK's performance in terms of law enforcement against corruption will decline sharply," said Wana.