Police arrested the deputy head of Indonesia's top anti-corruption body on Friday, days after it accused a senior police officer of graft, sparking accusations of police retaliation and demands that the president defend the agency.
The arrest of Bambang Widjojanto poses a serious challenge for President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo, who was sworn in last October to lead the nation of 250 million after winning election largely because of his clean image.
Continue Reading Below
More than 100 activists gathered at the Corruption Eradication Commission office in Jakarta on Friday to support Widjojanto and call on Jokowi back the graft-fighting body.
"People could easily guess that the arrest is not purely an effort to enforce the law," said anti-graft activist Zainal Arifin Mochtar. "It is time for Jokowi to prove his words during his campaign."
Widjojanto and commission head Abraham Samad had earlier named police Lt. Gen. Budi Gunawan a graft suspect, just a day before Parliament was to hold a confirmation hearing on his nomination as national police chief. Parliament still endorsed the nomination. Gunawan's candidacy has been challenged by anti-graft activists.
The commission has been investigating $4.3 million in Gunawan's bank accounts, and Widjojanto and Samad have said they have evidence the money may be related to criminal offenses such as bribes.
Jokowi announced last week that he has postponed the decision to appoint Gunawan as police chief because he is being investigated by the commission.
National Police spokesman Maj. Gen. Ronny Franky Sompie said Widjojanto was arrested for allegedly giving false testimony as a lawyer in 2010.
"We have enough evidence that he asked witnesses to provide false reports before the court," Sompie told reporters.
On Friday, Jokowi summoned leaders of the anti-graft commission and acting police chief Lt. Gen. Badrodin Haiti to the presidential palace in Bogor, West Java province, and urged them to avoid friction between the two institutions.
"I have asked both (the commission) and the police to ensure that the ongoing legal process should be objective and in accordance with the existing laws," Jokowi said.
Indonesia is often ranked by international observers as one of the most corrupt countries in the world. The anti-graft commission has made powerful enemies by putting scores of suspects on trial.