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Police generals implicated in Papua scandal

Jakarta Post - September 16, 2013

Yuliasri Perdani, Jakarta – An investigation by the Indonesian Police Watch (IPW) has found that a Papua Police officer paid bribes to 33 police officials, including the Papua Police chief.

It is alleged that Adj. First Insp. Labora Sitorus had paid the bribes, totalling Rp 10.95 billion (US$959,684), to protect his illegal logging and fuel-smuggling businesses.

IPW chairperson Neta S. Pane said on Sunday that Labora had wired and personally handed the money to officials at the Papua Police and the National Police between January 2012 and March 2013.

"He transferred funds to National Police officials in the water police division, Samapta [rapid response unit], Serse [criminal investigations directorate] and Propam [internal affairs division]," Neta said on Sunday.

"He also bribed a number of Papua Police officials, ranging from police precinct chiefs to the Papua Police chief."

IPW data shows that Labora paid bribes to the Papua Police chief five times, through money transfer or handing it directly to him or through his aide. "One time, he gave Rp 200 million to the Raja Ampat Police chief, who was then asked to transfer it to the Papua Police chief," Neta said.

Neta, however, declined to confirm whether the Papua Police chief was Insp. Gen. Tito Karnavian, whose tenure started in September 2012. Tito replaced his predecessor Insp. Gen. Bigman Lumban Tobing after serving as deputy chairman of the National Counterterrorism Agency (BNPT). "We are still processing data to confirm whether Tito was among the beneficiaries," he said.

The graft case involving Labora, a low-ranking officer stationed at West Papua's resort island of Raja Ampat, came to light in May following a disclosure by the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (PPATK) stating that he was linked to bank transactions totaling Rp 1 trillion between 2007 and 2012.

The Papua Police promptly investigated the disclosure by PPATK and found that Labora and his family controlled companies that illegally traded timber and subsidized fuel.

The Papua Police, in coordination with the National Police criminal investigations directorate, is expected to charge Labora under the 1999 Forestry Law as well as the Oil and Gas Law and the Money Laundering Law. Labora is expected to face trial soon as the Papua Police have completed his case dossiers.

Separately, chief of the National Police special economic crimes division Brig. Gen. Arief Sulistyo, said he doubted that high-ranking officials – particularly Tito – had ever received illicit funds from Labora.

"According to our investigation, there were no money transfers totaling Rp 10 billion from Labora's bank accounts. Yes, we found that Labora had given a meager amount of money to an officer, but no high-ranking ones. And, the force has taken disciplinary action against him," he told The Jakarta Post on Sunday.

Shortly after the Labora case made headlines, Tito dismissed Raja Ampat Police chief Adj. Sr. Comr. Taufik Irfan and blamed him for failing to track Labora's illicit businesses.

Arief also urged the IPW to hand over findings from the probe to the police. "Neta should assist efforts by the law enforcement agencies by sharing the new evidence. This [sharing the findings only to the media] gives the Papua Police chief a bad name. He had put so much effort into the investigation," he said.

Meanwhile, National Police spokesperson Insp. Gen. Ronny F. Sompie reiterated the force's commitment to prosecuting officers involved in the graft case.

"If our investigation gets enough evidence [about the officers' involvement], we will bring them to justice. Don't use baseless allegations to smear those who are innocent," he said.