Two policemen jailed over acid attack on Indonesian graft buster Novel Baswedan

Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) investigator Novel Baswedan poses for photo at his residence in Jakarta on July 16, 2020.
Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) investigator Novel Baswedan poses for photo at his residence in Jakarta on July 16, 2020.PHOTO: AFP
A man records with a mobile phone the videoconference trial of the two policemn accused of the 2017 acid attack.
A man records with a mobile phone the videoconference trial of the two policemn accused of the 2017 acid attack.PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA (AFP) - Two Indonesian police officers were jailed on Thursday (July 16) for partially blinding a top corruption investigator in an acid attack that sparked widespread anger in the graft-riddled South-east Asian nation.

A Jakarta court handed Ronny Bugis and Rahmat Kadir Mahulette one-and-a-half and two-year prison sentences, respectively, after convicting them of the 2017 attack on Novel Baswedan, a senior member of Indonesia's Corruption Eradication Commission.

Baswedan, 43, was set upon in the capital as he walked home from a mosque following early morning prayers.

The sentences were longer than the one-year jail terms sought by prosecutors - slammed by critics as too lenient.

But the court ruled that the officers tried to scare Baswedan rather than cause serious injury, saying they had sought to "teach him a lesson".

Anti-graft investigators in Indonesia - considered by some watchdogs to be among the world's most corrupt countries - have been targeted in the past, including with threats and violent attacks.

Before Thursday's ruling, rights groups and Baswedan himself - who was permanently blinded in one eye - derided the hearing as a show trial and said key evidence was not presented, including some eyewitness testimony.

"There was an effort to create the perception that the attack was a personal one instead of an attack on a graft investigator," Baswedan told AFP on Thursday before the sentencing.

"What we've seen so far is more theatre than a proper legal process."

In an earlier interview with AFP, Baswedan said he suspected senior police officials were behind his attack. He did not identify them.

Last year, rights activists slammed a six-month-long investigation that had failed to identify those behind the attack or a possible motive.

But the government-appointed team said it was likely linked to one of six high-profile corruption cases Baswedan was probing, including a government project to issue new ID cards that allegedly saw about US$170 million (S$230 million) pilfered from government coffers.