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Anti-graft czar Firli Bahuri questioned by police in extortion probe

Jakarta Globe - November 16, 2023

Ilham Oktafian & Heru Andriyanto, Jakarta – Firli Bahuri, head of the powerful Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), spent around four hours at the interrogation room of the National Police headquarters on Thursday following allegations that he had extorted a high-profile corruption suspect under investigation by his office.

Former agriculture minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo filed a complaint with the police, alleging that Firli had demanded bribes before his designation as a corruption suspect and subsequent detention by the KPK.

Chief Comr. Ade Safri Simanjuntak, director of Jakarta Police's special crimes division, said that Firli was questioned as a witness during the joint interrogation by Jakarta Police and the National Police.

"The KPK chairman faced approximately 15 questions from investigators," Ade told reporters.

Post-interrogation, investigators will assess physical and testimonial evidence to determine the course of the investigation, Ade said. This critical review will decide whether Firli will be treated as a suspect or if the case will be dismissed.

Since November 9, the police have interviewed nearly 100 witnesses and experts as part of the ongoing probe, Ade disclosed. Firli had received two prior police summonses before Thursday's interrogation.

Syahrul arrived at Jakarta Police headquarters on October 5 to report allegations against Firli. A week later, KPK investigators arrested Syahrul amidst a corruption inquiry into purported irregularities within the Agriculture Ministry.

Syahrul stands accused of illicitly amassing substantial funds from ministry officials in return for promotions during his tenure.

Incidents suggested meetings between Syahrul and Firli at various locations, including Firli's rented residence in South Jakarta. However, neither Syahrul nor the police have elaborated on the specifics of the extortion claims involving Firli, who has denied any wrongdoing.

The KPK is an ad-hoc body introduced in 2004 to tackle corruption, labeled as an "extra-ordinary crime" in the country, and has since prosecuted many active cabinet members, lawmakers, governors, regents, mayors, and other top government officials for stealing money from the state.

The commission's rapidly growing influence often caused conflicts with other law enforcement agencies.

Firli is not the first KPK chairman to confront a criminal probe by the police. In May 2009, Antasari Azhar was arrested and accused of orchestrating a businessman's murder. Eventually, he was convicted and sentenced to 18 years in prison.

Abraham Samad, another KPK chairman, faced police arrest in February 2015 over alleged document forgery. This followed a contentious episode where the KPK swiftly implicated police general Budi Gunawan as a corruption suspect soon after President Joko Widodo nominated him for National Police chief.

Budi successfully cleared his name through a pre-trial motion at the South Jakarta District Court while Abraham was later removed from his KPK chairmanship by the president due to his own legal trouble.

In March 2016, the Attorney General's Office decided to drop the criminal investigation against Abraham and his deputy Bambang Widjojanto, who faced previous accusations of witness tampering during his legal profession. The decision cited their contributions to the nation's anti-corruption efforts.

Source: https://jakartaglobe.id/news/antigraft-czar-firli-bahuri-questioned-by-police-in-extortion-prob