Indonesia's rights body goes on hunt for acid attacker

Jesuit priest turns detective as part of team tasked with helping find those behind attack on anti-graft investigator
Indonesia's rights body goes on hunt for acid attacker

This picture taken on Nov. 19, 2017, shows parliament speaker Setya Novanto (in orange) being escorted by Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) officials in Jakarta. Indonesia's National Commission on Human Rights has formed a team to help find those responsible for an attack on a KPK investigator looking into a US$170 million graft scandal Novanto is suspected of being involved in. (Photo by Rahmat Kasuba/AFP)

Indonesia's National Commission on Human Rights has formed a special team tasked with seeking justice for a corruption investigator who fell victim to an unsolved acid attack nearly a year ago.

The six-member team includes German-born Jesuit priest Father Franz Magnis-Suseno, an emeritus professor at Driyarkara School of Philosophy in Jakarta.

It is hoped that the team will be able help move forward a police investigation into the attack on Novel Baswedan, a Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) investigator.

The team's task "is to gather facts and information from related parties including Baswedan as well as KPK officials and witnesses," said the team's leader, Sandrayati Moniaga, a rights commissioner.

Baswedan suffered serious injuries after having acid thrown in his face in April last year. He was leading an investigation into an electronic identity card graft case in which dozens of politicians have been implicated, including Setya Novanto, the speaker of Indonesia's Lower House. 

The police investigation into the attack has so far hit a dead end with no suspects in the frame.

The rights commission believes the high-profile attack was a defiant gesture against law enforcers and should not go unpunished.

"The case must be resolved quickly. The longer the police investigation takes, the chances of it remaining unsolved grow," Moniaga said.

According to Father Magnis-Suseno, the attack "seems to be linked with [Baswedan's] efforts to eradicate corruption."

"Such an attack whatever the reason is barbaric. The perpetrators must be severely punished," he told on March 16 when the newly formed team met officials from the KPK.

Baswedan's lawyer Alghiffari Aqsa Bachtiar said his client "hopes the team will be able to reveal the facts about the attack and who perpetrators are." 

"He also hopes that those fighting against corruption will not be deterred by what happened to him and will continue their fight," he said.

Chairul Huda, a criminal law expert from Muhammadiyah University in Jakarta, welcomed the formation of the commission team, saying a stronger commitment is needed — despite having 166 officers working on it — to resolve the case as the attack on Baswedan appeared to be a direct challenge against the KPK.

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