DASRIL ROSZANDI / AFP
This article originally appeared on VICE US.
A three-year investigation into a 2017 acid attack carried out by two police officers against an Indonesian graft investigator appears to have finally come to an end.
After a 10-hour hearing on Thursday, defendants Rahmat Kadir Mahulette and Ronny Bugis—both policemen—were found guilty under Article 353 of the Criminal Code of committing a planned persecution causing severe injury. They were sentenced to two years and 18 months in prison, respectively.
The North Jakarta District Court judges gave Mahulette a longer sentence because he was the main culprit in the attack, though Judge Djuyamto knocked six months off of the two-year stretch to account for time served.
Oddly, prosecutors requested light sentences for Mahulette and Bugis based on their claim that they had not intended to hurl the acid into investigator Novel Baswedan’s face, leaving him partially blind. The two suspects also professed regret for their actions and apologized.
Novel, meanwhile, has said he had “no hope” of a fair verdict being rendered, accusing prosecutors of failing to investigate who ordered the attack.
“I have no expectations at all, even if they are heavily punished or mildly punished. This is because the court has been designed to fail. It's like a theatrical court,” Novel told Antaranews. “Basically, punishment should be meted out to people on the basis of objective, evidence-based facts.”
Novel is considered one of the leading graft investigators in Indonesia, having exposed massive corruption cases over the past decade.
In a previous hearing, public prosecutor Fedrik Adhar maintained that the two policemen had not intended to cause severe injury, and said their actions were motivated by personal hatred towards the investigator, whom they saw as a “traitor.” Novel used to be a police officer.
“During trial, the defendants said they did not intend to commit serious assault. They just wanted to teach him a lesson by hurling acid on his body. But it hit his head instead, which permanently damaged his left eye,” Adhar said, according to local media.
Anti-corruption activists, however, believe Mahulette and Bugis were merely scapegoats. Novel’s advocates have urged the Indonesian Police’s Internal Affairs Division (Propam) to investigate Inspector General Rudy Heriyanto, who allegedly lost evidence when he was investigating the case as a director of the general criminal investigation with the Jakarta Metro Police.
“He seemed to intentionally lose the evidence to cover up the facts,” said one such advocate, Kurnia Ramadhana, in the Jawa Pos.
Novel’s supporters accuse Heriyanto and other investigators of trying to hide the truth behind the attack from the very beginning. First, they lost the perpetrator’s fingerprints found on the bottle of acid, and then they declined to consider the bottle as evidence during the judicial process.
They were also accused of failing to thoroughly examine the security footage from cameras around the neighbourhood.
Mahulette is blamed for actually throwing the acid on Novel as he was on his way home from morning prayer at Al Ihsan Mosque, while Bugis was the getaway driver. The investigation dossier said Mahulette had borrowed Bugis’ motorbike two days before the attack in order to scope out Novel’s house and plan an escape route.
Police suddenly announced the pair’s arrest on December 27, 2019, almost three years after the attack, after saying for years that they needed more time to gather evidence.