Page last updated at 16:01 GMT, Tuesday, 17 November 2009

Police blamed in Indonesia probe

By Karishma Vaswani
BBC News, Jakarta

Indonesian students rally in support of the country's anti-corruption agency
Protesters support the actions of the anti-corruption watchdog, the KPK

An inquiry into a scandal known as Indonesia's Watergate says the police case against two anti-corruption officials should be dropped.

The probe, set up by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, was widely expected to find in favour of the two officials.

Police had accused the two men - who worked for the country's powerful anti-corruption watchdog, the KPK - of extortion and abuse of power.

But the case caused public outrage when it emerged they may have been framed.

Public sympathy has been growing for the KPK, with almost daily protests on the streets of Jakarta, urging the president to act decisively.

There was a huge public outcry against the arrest of the two men - Bibit Samad Rianto and Chandra Hamzah - that led to their release.

Increasing pressure

Indonesians do not have much faith in many of their institutions like the police force or the judiciary. But the anti-corruption commission is one thing many of them do believe in.

They see the targeting of the two KPK men as an outrageous injustice - an attempt by Indonesia's police to weaken the powerful agency, which has earned itself a reputation for putting corrupt officials behind bars, even those in high places.

President Yudhoyono
President Yudhoyono was elected on promises to combat corruption

The president is now under increasing pressure to come up with a solution to this problem.

He has been largely silent on the issue, and last week when this case was being debated in Indonesian media, he was in Malaysia on a state visit, and then in Singapore for the Apec summit.

President Yudhoyono is now back in Jakarta and the calls for him to take action are getting louder.

He was re-elected in July on his promise to clamp down on corruption. How he handles this case will be seen as a test of that commitment.

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