Attorney General Backs Down on Anti-Graft Appointments

JAKARTA ~ The attorney general was forced into an embarrassing about-face this week after activists slammed his appointment of allegedly corrupt prosecutors to oversee graft investigations.

Attorney General Hendarman Supandji revoked the appointments of Kemas Yahya Rahman and Muhammad Salim with immediate effect after criticism from Indonesian Corruption Watch, an official said.

The prosecutors were reprimanded and demoted last year after the powerful Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) made public secretly taped phone conversations between them and a corrupt businesswoman.

The scandal saw another senior prosecutor sentenced to 20 years’ jail for accepting a US$660,000 bribe from the woman, who was also jailed.

Senior prosecutor for special crime Marwan Efendi said he had been asked to take over from Rahman and Salim as the new overseer of corruption probes at the Attorney General’s Office.

“Following strong criticism over the appointments, the attorney general has assigned me to take over from today the new tasks of Kemas and Salim,” he said on Wednesday.

“We are afraid that if it (the criticism) continues, it will not only affect the performance of Kemas and Salim but also taint the image of our institution.”

On Tuesday Activists from Indonesian Corruption Watch slammed the appointments and called on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to revoke them immediately.

Yudhoyono promised to stamp out corruption when he was elected in 2004 but Indonesia remains one of the most corrupt countries in the world as he heads toward a reelection battle in July.

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