Indonesian cop fears poisoning… by cops

There’s a top cop in Indonesia who is either very paranoid or knows something we don’t about how the police conduct their business in this part of the world. I suspect the latter.

Former chief detective Susno Duadji seems to think his colleagues are trying to poison him. Last week he appeared before a parliamentary committee to rat out his friends and a mysterious “Mr X” for corruption.  Most top cops would bring a briefcase and an assistant to such an event, but Susno is a very, very different breed of catfish altogether.

The Jakarta Globe reported, almost in passing, that he showed up “accompanied by his lawyer and a medical team to ensure his food was not poisoned”. To a parliamentary hearing!

That’s almost like Robert Gates appearing before the Senate Armed Services Committee and refusing to drink the water because he thinks it’s been poisoned. Imagine an America where that could happen, and happen without any real public surprise or outrage, and that’s where Indonesia is now.

Except that Susno is not Robert Gates. Just a few months ago he was accused of being at the centre of a conspiracy to frame anti-graft investigators in order to rescue a corrupt businessman from prosecution. He was publicly disgraced, demoted and hung out to dry by his boss, police chief General Bambang Hendarso Danuri. Despite being caught on a wiretap in incriminating conversations, Susno denies any wrongdoing and is fighting back the only way he knows how.

I thought the medical team was a one-off publicity stunt until he did it again yesterday. Police officers intercepted him as he tried to fly (flee) to Singapore for a “medical check-up”. Taken to the station for questioning, The Jakarta Post reported that he refused to drink the water provided by his police colleagues.

He seems to think, or want everyone else to think, that the police are trying to kill him to stop him exposing any more of their corruption. And who would know better about the nasty tricks of the Indonesian police force than a senior officer who until only a few months ago was the nation’s chief detective, a decorated general of that force?

The Indonesian security forces allegedly like to dabble with poison. Everyone in Indonesia is familiar with the 2004 murder of leading human rights lawyer Munir bin Thalib, allegedly poisoned by a secret police agent during a flight to The Netherlands. The agent,  Muchdi Purwopranjono, was acquitted in controversial circumstances in December 2008. A  special National Human Rights Commission team has examined the trial and found gross incompetence and/or misconduct:

The special team, which examined the conduct of police, prosecutors, and judges in conducting the 2008 trial of a senior security services official for Munir’s killing, found on February 9, 2010, that all three institutions had performed their tasks poorly and recommended renewed efforts to establish responsibility for the murder.
“President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono once said that finding Munir’s killers was the test of Indonesia’s history,” said Brad Adams, Asia director at Human Rights Watch. “The human rights team has shown that Indonesia has utterly failed that test. President Yudhoyono should order a new investigation and make good on his promise to see that justice is done.”

Could Susno’s very public fears of poisoning be a signal to those at the most senior echelons of the police force that he is prepared to blow the whistle on the Munir case unless they back off?

What you have with Susno is a guy who is laying his life on the line to tell the world how thoroughly corrupt, at senior levels, the Indonesian police really are. It sounds heroic but in fact he’s an anti-hero, because his motives are purely selfish.

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