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Baswedan on acid attack: 'If the president is afraid to uncover this, I'm very sad'

Coconuts Jakarta - November 1, 2018

It has been just about 18 months since the acid attack that scarred and partially blinded Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) senior investigator Novel Baswedan, and police still say they have no suspects or leads on the assailants.

Novel, who returned to work for the KPK in July after spending many months recovering from the attack in Singapore, has long insinuated that there were underhanded reasons behind the police's inability (or unwillingness) to solve his case, but today he made his most direct comments yet implying that President Joko Widodo himself had failed to keep the investigation going.

Speaking at an event at KPK headquarters in Jakarta today, Novel said he could at least understand if the police were afraid to properly investigate the case as they were more vulnerable to manipulation, political or otherwise.

But Novel said that it was for that very reason that Jokowi, as the nation's leader, had to play a role in pushing the investigation forward.

"The question is whether or not the president is afraid of uncovering the truth? If the President is afraid to uncover this, I am very sad," Novel said as quoted by Kompas.

The KPK senior investigator said that was because the president was the greatest hope for and leader of the Indonesian people.

Whether or not Jokowi has played any role in the police's so-far unsuccessful investigation into the attack on Novel, it certainly stands as one of the blackest marks on his administration's anti-corruption record.

Indeed, Novel's investigation has now become a point of contention in the 2019 presidential election after Jokowi's rival candidate, Prabowo Subianto, promised to investigate and resolve the acid attack case in 3 months if elected by forming a new fact finding team.

The attack on Novel took place early on the morning of April 11, 2017, when the KPK investigator was splashed with hydrochloric acid in the face by two people on a motorcycle as he was leaving a mosque near his home in Jakarta.

The attack occurred while Novel and the KPK were in the midst of of one of their biggest investigations ever after they accused dozens of high-level politicians of taking part in a scheme to rob the state of US$170 million worth of misappropriated funds from the program for the country's new e-KTP electronic ID cards (which led to the dramatic arrest of former House Speaker Setya Novanto).

Novel spent many months recovering from the attack, which left him blind in his left eye. Unbowed despite his injuries, he returned to work at the KPK in July.

Although police claim they are still working on Novel's case, they have yet to identify either of his assailants nor have they announced any new developments in the case for many months.

Although Jokowi's administration has a generally good reputation for not being mired in the corruption endemic to Indonesian politics, lingering questions about the attack on Novel as well as a recent scandal involving bribery accusations against National Police Chief Tito Karnavian has put Jokowi's campaign on the defensive. Prabowo's camp may have seen that as the opening they needed to press their case that the former general could do a better job on corruption than the current administration.

Source: https://coconuts.co/jakarta/news/kpks-novel-baswedan-unsolved-acid-attack-president-afraid-uncover-im-sad/.

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