JAKARTA (AFP) – A top Indonesian anti-corruption official tendered his resignation Monday after being arrested and warned of a campaign to “destroy” the country’s graft-fighting agency, amid an escalating row with the police.
Bambang Widjojanto, deputy chief of the Corruption Eradication Commssion (KPK), was arrested last week, after the body accused a senior police official of graft, prompting his appointment as national police chief to be postponed.
Widjojanto’s supporters have accused the police, regarded as deeply corrupt, of seeking revenge against the anti-graft commission, which is popular among the public but has made many enemies after years targeting high-profile figures.
New President Joko Widodo put forward the police official to be the new chief, and his response to the row is being closely watched to see whether he lives up to a pledge to stamp out corruption in Indonesia.
Announcing that he would step aside temporarily due to the police investigation into accusations he interfered in a legal case, Widjojanto urged the public to keep up their strong support for graft-fighting efforts.
“I am convinced that the case against me is a fabrication and based on fiction,” he told reporters. “It’s not only to weaken the KPK, but to destroy it, and in a very systematic way.”
The heads of the KPK and the president must still accept his resignation.
He was arrested on Friday, accused of ordering witnesses to give false testimony in a 2010 court case while acting as a lawyer. He was granted a conditional release early Saturday.
Police say that he could face seven years in prison if found guilty.
Widjojanto’s arrest sparked a protest last week by hundreds of anti-corruption activists outside KPK headquarters in Jakarta, who urged Widodo to take action to defend the agency.
Widodo had already faced criticism for putting forward Budi Gunawan, a three-star police general, as his sole pick for police chief.
Gunawan was named a corruption suspect shortly after being nominated. The president refused to revoke the nomination, but later postponed his appointment until the KPK investigation was complete.
Anti-corruption group Transparency International ranked Indonesia 107th out of 175 countries in its annual corruption perceptions index last year. A number one ranking means the least corrupt.