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Kamis, 12 November 2009

Police hit back with video evidence

Jakarta ; Reeling from a body blow delivered by a former police chief's testimony in antigraft official Antasari Azhar's trial, police made public Wednesday a video and documents they say shore up their case against the defendant

Former South Jakarta Police chief Sr. Comr. Wiliardi Wizard, in his testimony Tuesday at the trial of the former Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) chairman charged with murdering businessman Nasruddin Zulkarnaen, said the whole thing was an elaborate ruse by the police to frame Antasari.

Wiliardi added his initial testimony, accusing Antasari of planning the murder, had been made under duress and on orders he claimed came directly from the National Police chief.

He also said he had been promised clemency if he went along with the police-engineered testimony, which he has since recanted.

On Wednesday, however, National Police spokesman Insp. Gen. Nanan Sukarna denied the police had ever forced Wiliardi to give false witness to frame Antasari.

“We named Antasari a murder suspect without testimony from Wiliardi, so where would be the logic in forcing this testimony out of him?” Nanan said at a press conference.

The press conference followed an admission by National Police chief Gen. Bambang Hendarso Danuri that the force had been cornered by the media over its handling of the Antasari case and the alleged bribery case involving suspended KPK deputy chairmen Bibit Samad Rianto and Chandra M. Hamzah.

“It’s up to the public to accept those explanations. But for now the police have been cornered,” Bambang told senior officers at a workshop on public relations.

“Wiliardi’s testimony in court was that we forced him. We need to make a speedy public explanation of the truth.”

Police also defended their charges, based on Antasari's testimony, that Bibit and Chandra had taken bribes from fugitive graft suspect Anggoro Widjojo — which a presidential fact-finding team and the Attorney General's Office both say lack sufficient evidence — saying they had never forced the confession from Antasari.

The police also played back a video of Antasari's questioning by investigators, which included a scene where he initiated the testimony and other scenes showing him laughing with the investigators.

The video also showed Antasari saying how he would bring an end to the KPK once he had left the institution.

Critics were quick to denounce the police's public showing of the video to rebut Wiliardi’s testimony, saying they should have gone by the book and presented the facts in a court of law.

University of Indonesia legal expert Rudi Satriyo said all the police officers named by Wiliardi, including police chief Bambang, should defend themselves in court.

“The next thing for the National Police chief to do is to testify in the cross-examination of Wiliardi,” he said.

Retired judge Benjamin Mang-kudilaga agreed all the officers named in Wiliardi's testimony needed to testify.

He added the conclusion of the case would depend on how much further the judges probed
the matter.

Benjamin also pointed out if Wiliardi’s testimony was true, then it would mean the police force had painted itself even deeper into the corner.

Responding to police spokesman Nanan's claim that Wiliardi was not a key witness in the case, Benjamin said the police had every right to say what they wanted on the case, but should not draw attention away from the core issue.

“The main issue is whether there was pressure on Wiliardi to give the initial testimony that he gave,” he said.

Rudi and Benjamin both agreed Wiliardi’s testimony had significantly altered the case against Antasari, and perhaps even the case against Bibit and Chandra.

However, renowned lawyer Frans Hendrawinata said Wiliardi’s bombshell testimony could not stand on its own.

“A confession is the weakest type of evidence, it's a last-resort sort of thing," he said.

"Keep in mind also that a single confession can never qualify as solid evidence.”

Fact-finding team leader Adnan Buyung Nasution said Wiliardi's testimony could "make the situation out of control".

"It clearly shows that something is wrong in this country," he said.

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