Jakarta – The North Jakarta District Court held a session on Thursday to hear the indictment against two active police officers allegedly involved in the acid attack against top corruption investigator Novel Baswedan.
The defendants are Ronny Bugis and Rahmat Kadir Mahulete, both officers from Depok's Kelapa Dua mobile brigade.
During Thursday's hearing, which was not attended by Novel, prosecutor Fedrik Adhar charged the two defendants with violating Article 355 on premeditated ill treatment, which carries a maximum sentence of 12 years' imprisonment upon conviction.
Meanwhile, as subsidiary indictments, the two were charged of violating articles 353 and 351 of the Criminal Code, both related to mistreatment.
In the indictment read to the court, Fedrik accused Ronny and Rahmat of attacking Novel because of a grudge over the victim's work as an investigator for the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), which has sent powerful politicians and government officials, including top police generals like Insp. Gen. Djoko Susilo in 2012, to prison.
According to the indictment, the two defendants saw this as a form of resistance against the National Police.
The prosecutors alleged that the two suspects had been scouting Novel's house days prior to the attack to plan their entry and escape routes. They claimed the motorcycle that was used during the attack belonged to Ronny.
"Novel suffered severe injuries, experiencing infection or obstruction that could prevent him from working, damage to the right and left eye's cornea that has the potential to cause blindness or loss of vision," Fedrik read out the indictment.
The indictments also quoted a report from the hospital that examined Novel after the attack, which stated that he had suffered first- and second-degree burns on his face and a third-degree burn on his left eye from the acid.
Both defendants said they would not make a plea against the indictment. Presiding judge Djumyanto decided to adjourn the trial until April 2.
Thursday's hearing marks a new episode in the prolonged investigation into the attack, which took place on April 11, 2017.
The two defendants allegedly threw acid at Novel's face when he was walking home from morning prayers at Al Ihsan Mosque in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta.
Novel's left eye was severely injured as a result of the attack, requiring him to undergo surgery in Singapore.
After several separate investigations and the establishment of fact-finding team in January 2019 that failed to identify any suspect at the end of its six-month tenure, the police finally arrested the two suspects in December last year.
The police force was criticized because it took years to arrest two low-ranking officers. Many members of the public suspect that the mastermind behind the attack is still on the loose.
The Novel Baswedan Advocacy Team also felt that the trial was a mere formality that had no intention of revealing the mastermind.
"The indictment contradicts the findings of the National Police Fact-Finding Team for Novel's case, which found that the motive for the acid attack was related to the large corruption cases that were handled by him," advocacy team member Alghiffari Aqsa told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.
He added that the police's fact-finding team also suggested that there was a mastermind. He said he also found it strange that the suspects and their lawyers did not intend to object to the indictment.
"Based on this fact, the advocacy team considers that the trial of the Novel case is nothing but a formality," Alghiffari said. "The trial goes smoothly without exceptions [from the defendants]. It doesn't seem to have the intention whatsoever to reveal the intellectual actor and will most likely lead to a light sentence." (mfp)