November 7, 2023
JAKARTA – Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) chairman Firli Bahuri is facing a second round of police questioning as investigators say they have gathered more evidence related to the alleged extortion of former agriculture minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo.
The Jakarta Police will interrogate Firli on Tuesday morning and are planning to review whether they have enough evidence to name him a suspect in the case, according to Jakarta Police director for special crimes Sr. Comr. Ade Safri Simanjuntak.
“There will be a meeting [of the investigators] to name a suspect. We have already scheduled it,” Ade said as quoted by Antara on Friday.
Ade did not reveal the exact date of the meeting or whether Firli would be its subject, but he noted that it would take place sometime after Firli’s interrogation.
It will be Firli’s second interrogation after being questioned as a witness in late October. He missed a previous summons earlier in the same month.
The police have gathered additional evidence from Firli’s house in Bekasi, West Java, and have seized letters and documents from the KPK headquarters.
Investigators have also questioned at least 70 witnesses in relation to the case so far, including Agriculture Ministry officials, former and current KPK employees, an aide to Firli and Semarang Police chief Sr. Comr. Irwan Anwar, who is suspected of acting as a middleman in the alleged extortion.
The police started their investigation on Aug. 12 after receiving a public complaint about alleged extortion and blackmail by unidentified KPK leaders in relation to a KPK probe into alleged corruption at the Agriculture Ministry during the tenure of then-minister Syahrul of the NasDem Party.
One of the materials under police investigation is an undated photograph circulating on social media appearing to show Firli, Syahrul and Irwan in a private meeting on a badminton court in Jakarta.
Social media users have speculated that the viral image shows the meeting where Firli allegedly sought to extort some S$1 billion (US$727 million) from Syahrul.
The Jakarta Police raised the status of the case to a full investigation on Oct. 6 after gathering evidence but have yet to name any suspects. A full investigation usually requires the police to name at least one suspect.
Four sources told Tempo recently that the police were supposed to have named a suspect last week but they changed their mind and instead decided to summon Firli for questioning once again. They did not specify who the suspect would have been.
Several days after Firli’s interrogation late last month, the police searched his house in Bekasi and another house in Jl. Kertanegara, South Jakarta, which was reportedly sublet by businessman Alex Tirta to Firli.
Alex is a managing director of the Badminton Association of Indonesia (PBSI). He appeared for questioning at the Jakarta Police headquarters last week after having missed his first summons as a result of illness.
Alex has maintained his innocence, saying that the sublet was lawful and that he had never accepted any bribes from Firli, Kompas.tv reported.
The police suspect that Firli and Syahrul met at the house in Jl. Kertanegara in addition to the badminton court encounter, according to news reports. The police did not disclose the details of their suspicion.
Syahrul is currently being detained by the KPK, having been named a suspect in a bribery case related to his time at the Agriculture Ministry.
Firli has denied any wrongdoing. He said the extortion allegation was a way for graft suspects to “strike back” at him for prosecuting them. While he confirmed that he had met with Syahrul on a badminton court in Jakarta, he said the meeting took place in March of last year, long before the KPK began its investigation into the Agriculture Ministry early this year.
Firli’s critics and antigraft activists have demanded that he step down amid the police probe into the alleged extortion and following the circulation of the photograph seeming to show a private meeting between him and a person of interest in a KPK investigation. (jan)