A powerful politician once considered so untouchable by law enforcement that it spawned a meme (#ThePowerOfSetNov), Indonesia’s house speaker, Setya Novanto, spent last night in a tiny cell at the detainment center of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) after officially being arrested following the soap operatic saga of his disappearance and (alleged) car crash last Friday.
As if to emphasize how far Novanto had fallen, Detik, one of Indonesia’s most widely read online media outlets, went with the savage headline: “Arrested by the KPK, Novanto the Invincible now sleeps with a toilet”
(However, it seems somebody might have gotten cold feet as the article headline was later changed to “This is the condition of the Invincible Novanto’s Jail Cell”).
Despite attempts by Novanto’s lawyer and family to delay his arrest on medical grounds, the KPK acquired the legal green light to officially arrest him late on Friday night as a suspect in the massive e-KTP (electronic identity card) corruption case, giving them the right to detain him for 20 days for questioning and further investigation.
The house speaker’s lawyer, Fredrich Yunadi, then threatened to report the KPK to the International Human Rights Court for arresting his gravely ill client (leading former chief justice of the Constitutional Court, Mahfud MD, to comment that Fredrich clearly had no understanding of how international law actually works). He also said he would continue to report people creating and sharing satirical memes about Novanto (a group which likely now numbers in the tens of thousands) to the police after getting one woman arrested for doing so last month.
The KPK waited until a team of doctors from the Indonesian Doctors Association (IDI) ran a battery of medical tests on the senior Golkar politician to confirm that he was fit to leave Cipto Mangunkusumo Hospital. He was then transferred to the KPK’s State Detention Center in East Jakarta.
Novanto spoke to the media and said that even though he is still in severe pain from his accident, he would cooperate with law enforcement for now.
“Yes I accept (my detention), even though I am still sick and still have vertigo because of the accident,” Novanto said in a husky voice as quoted by Tribun.
However, he also said he would submit letters to President Joko Widodo, the chief of police and the attorney general asking for legal protection as he had fully cooperated with the law so far (pfft) and his second pretrial motion to negate his suspect status had not yet been heard in court (it’s set to go before a judge on Nov 30).
Over the weekend the president clearly stated that Novanto needed to comply with law enforcement and indicated he would not interfere in the KPK’s investigation, his strongest statement yet against the house speaker. Political analysts say that Novanto’s arrest might lead Golkar to withdraw their current support for Jokowi’s 2019 presidential bid, which could be a serious blow to his chances for reelection.