Moch. Fiqih Prawira Adjie and Galih Gumelar, Jakarta – After more than three years of investigations and legal proceedings, the North Jakarta District Court has found two police officers guilty of attacking senior Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) investigator Novel Baswedan.
"[The panel of judges hereby] declares the defendants guilty of committing a criminal act of planned persecution, which resulted in serious injuries," presiding judge Djuyamto said in the court on Tuesday night.
The court sentenced the two officers, Brig. Rahmat Kadir Mahulet and Chief Brig. Ronny Bugis, to two years' and 18 months' imprisonment, respectively.
Rahmat was given a longer sentence as judges deemed that he was the one who prepared and threw a mixture of battery acid and water on Novel. The judges said that Ronny drove Rahmat on a motorcycle for the attack.
Both were found guilty of violating Article 353 of the Criminal Code on persecution causing serious injury or death, which carries a maximum sentence of nine years' imprisonment upon conviction.
The sentence was higher than the one year initially demanded by prosecutors. Both Ronny and Rahmat said they accepted the ruling while the prosecutors said they were considering an appeal.
The attack, which occurred in 2017, completely blinded Novel in the left eye and left him with 50 percent vision in his right eye.
After the attack, the police were criticized for their sluggish handling of the case as a string of investigations and a fact-finding team formed by then-National Police chief Gen. Tito Karnavian – who now serves as home minister – was unable to identify the attackers. The police finally managed to arrest both suspects in December 2019, two and a half years after the attack.
Novel previously told the courtroom that he believed the acid attack was related to his work on certain high-profile corruption cases, including a bribery case that implicated former Constitutional Court justice Patrialis Akbar and the e-ID corruption case that involved former House of Representatives speaker Setya Novanto.
The light sentence demands from the prosecutors had sparked public outcry, with many questioning the prosecutors' arguments that the defendants "accidentally" threw the acid into Novel's face. Novel himself called the demands outrageous and urged the court to acquit the defendants because of the trial's many perceived irregularities.
Despite the legal proceedings concerns remain that the two policemen are merely scapegoats and activists have demanded the government set up a new investigation team to reveal the mastermind behind the attack.