Indonesian antigraft investigator flown to Singapore for treatment after acid attack

Novel Baswedan was walking home in the early morning of April 10 when he was attacked by two men, who have yet to be identified.
Novel Baswedan was walking home in the early morning of April 10 when he was attacked by two men, who have yet to be identified. PHOTO: REUTERS/ANTARA FOTO

JAKARTA - A prominent Indonesian corruption investigator who had acid thrown in his face by motorbike-riding assailants was flown to Singapore on Wednesday (April 12) to undergo treatment after an acid attack, the Jakarta Post reported.

Novel Baswedan, an investigator with Indonesia's Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), was seeking "better treatment" in Singapore after KPK officials consulted with doctors from the Jakarta Eye Center (JEC) in Menteng, Central Jakarta, the agency's chairman Agus Rahardjo said according to the Post.

“A KPK representative and a doctor is currently waiting for Novel’s arrival in Singapore,” Agus said during his visit to Novel at the JEC on Wednesday morning.

JEC president director Johan A. Hutauruk said that Novel’s eyesight, which was affected the worst by the assault, had been improving.

“Today [Wednesday], the condition of Novel’s eyes have improved three times better than yesterday,” said Johan. “Novel did the first aid properly by washing the acid off his face with water.“


The decision to move Novel to Singapore was also based on the request of Novel’s family, he said.

“We have contacted the doctors there so [Novel] can be treated immediately,” he said. 

Novel was walking home from a mosque in the early hours following morning prayers on Monday when he was assailed by two men, who were yet to be identified.

President Joko Widodo condemned the act and urged police to track down the assailants, Agence France-Presse reported on Tuesday.

Presidential spokesman Johan Budi, who visited Novel in hospital, told AFP the investigator had injuries on his forehead and blurred vision in his left eye.

Anti-graft investigators in Indonesia, one of the world's most corrupt countries, have been targeted in the past and have reported having cars driven at them and receiving threats.

It was not immediately clear who was behind the latest assault but anti-graft NGO Indonesian Corruption Watch said they suspected it was linked to Baswedan's role in probing a corruption scandal that allegedly saw about US$170 million pilfered from government coffers, reported AFP.

The investigation is being led by the KPK.

Senior politicians, including the justice minister and ex-interior minister, have been implicated in the scandal, with investigators alleging they were among many who received kickbacks from funds earmarked for a government project to issue new ID cards.

Parliament speaker Setya Novanto, who has been implicated in the case, was late Monday hit with a six-month ban on travelling outside Indonesia, said immigration authorities. Such a step is usually taken in Indonesia when people are under investigation.