Police drop tobacco graft case, sparking suspicions, 25/10/10

The police have dropped an investigation into possible graft on the omission of a proposed clause  in the 2009 Law on Health, allegedly due to political interference.

National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Iskandar Hasan said Tuesday the decision to discontinue the investigation was made without any interference from outside parties.

“It was due to an order from the Director of Transnational Security and Crimes at the Detective Division whose detectives have failed to find any criminal charges in the case.

“This is neither a sudden decision nor due to political interference. This has been through a long discussion,” Iskandar told the press.

He said it was still possible for detectives to reopen the case if new evidence would be found.

Several weeks ago, a leaked police document showed that detectives had named three politicians as suspects. They were lawmakers Ribka Tjiptaning of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), Asiah Salekan and Maryani Baramuli of the Golkar Party.

Ribka was the then-chairwoman for a committee deliberating the health bill in 2009 while Asiah and Maryani were members of House of Representatives’ Commission IX overseeing manpower, transmigration, demography and health.

But the police refused to confirm the authenticity of this document.

Activists alleged this was linked to the fit-and-proper test of the appointed National Police chief Comr. Gen. Timur Pradopo at the House, last week.

Ribka’s colleagues from the opposition PDI-P sitting in the House’s Commission III on law and human rights, approved Timur despite questions on his commitment to human rights, police reform and curbing violence by vigilante groups.

The commission’s members from the Golkar Party, who previously criticized the government very strongly over the Bank Century scandal, also approved Timur.

Indonesia Corruption Watch researcher Adnan Topan Husodo said he suspected the police decision was a “political trade”  to compensate for PDI-P and Golkar support for the government in order to secure Timur’s appointment.

PDI-P lawmaker Gayus Lumbuun denied this speculation. “Our party truly respects the law. We believe that the police have a reason that is judicially accountable before coming up with their decision [to drop the case],” he said.

Ribka herself has also denied her involvement in omitting the article, saying it was a technical error and the missing article had been returned to its original place.

This case was initially reported in March by a group of NGOs called the Coalition for Anti-Tobacco Clause Corruption (KAKAR).

Tulus Abadi from the Indonesian Consumers Association (YLKI) said the coalition would file a pre-trial lawsuit with the South Jakarta District Court against the police decision to drop the case.

A clause from Article 113 of the Health Law, stipulating that tobacco is among addictive substances, “went missing” several days before the law was endorsed by the President.

Leave a Comment