The Judicial Mafia Eradication Task Force on Thursday agreed to examine a criminal case involving a farmer from Indramayu, West Java, who claimed to have been extorted by a police officer.
Forty-year-old Kadana told the Jakarta Globe on Thursday that he had spent millions of rupiah after he was accused of murdering a neighbor.
Kadana said an officer from the Karangampel Police subprecinct approached him and promised to get the charges dropped in exchange for a sum of money. Kadana said he then sold all of his property to raise the cash.
For the past month, the farmer’s wife, Darmi, 35, and their six children, between the ages of 18 months and 13 years, have been living in a goat shed owned by a neighbor.
Kadana said his family was only able to survive thanks to the generosity of neighbors who provided them with rice.
“It breaks my heart seeing my children unable to go to school and eat nothing but rice. If not for the kindness of people in my village, I don’t know where my family would sleep at night,” Kadana told the Globe at the task force’s office in Central Jakarta.
Kadana said he was forced to sell his house below market price because he was desperate to pay off the officer.
“What else could I do? I had no choice but to do what he said,” he said. “I didn’t do anything and was nowhere near [the victim], but the police insisted that they had several witnesses who put me at the scene of the crime.”
Kadana said he sold his house for Rp 10 million [$1,000], an extremely low price even in a rural area like Karangampel, because he was desperate to raise the Rp 14.3 million that the police officer was demanding.
“I tried my best, borrowing money from everyone I know. First he asked for Rp 6 million. Later he told me he needed another Rp 4 million for the Indramayu Police precinct and so on and so on,” Kadana said.
“He kept extorting me. I even had to walk 10 kilometers just to deliver his money because I ran out of money to pay for transportation,” the farmer added.
Kadana said that despite paying the officer, the Indramayu District Court sentenced him to seven years in prison on Tuesday.
“I was outraged. I couldn’t believe that a police officer could extort a poor person like me,” he said.
Denny Indrayana, secretary of the presidentially appointed task force, said a special report that ran on Metro TV on Wednesday evening had brought the case to the team’s attention.
On Thursday, the team had Kadana transferred to Jakarta and promised him and his family protection. Several task force members have traveled to Indramayu to gather more information.
“This case serves as an example that poor people like Kadana are the real victims of the judicial mafia. Case brokers do not care if a person is rich or poor, they ruthlessly suck a person dry,” Denny said.
“We hope that Kadana will be able to identify the rogue officer who extorted him, along with his accomplices,” he added.
Indonesia Corruption Watch said the case could serve as a lesson to people not to deal with case brokers.
“There are countless cases where suspects are tricked by people or officers claiming they can get a criminal prosecution dropped. More often than not it’s a trick and they lose millions in the process,” ICW deputy chairman Emerson Yuntho said.
“The only way is to face justice. Underprivileged people can seek the help of the Legal Aid Foundation or similar nonprofit groups. There is absolutely no reason for them to meet rogue officers’ demands for a payoff.”