Up close and personal
AsiaViews, Edition: 32/III/Aug/2006
In addition to being discharged from his post as Southeast Sulawesi Police Chief, Edhi Susilo is in danger of being fired from the police force.
A NUMBER of policemen at the Southeast Sulawesi Police Headquarters were surprised at seeing Ertin's (not her real name) angry face. This woman police officer had just stepped out of the office of Brig. Gen. Edhi Susilo, Chief of Police of Southeast Sulawesi, on the third floor. “Ill-mannered! A superior should not have done that,” said Ertin angrily.
She reported the matter to her colleagues who sought an explanation. After a few moments in Edhi's office, he approached her when she was leaving the room. Apparently Edhi had groped her. “I could only stare hard at him,” Ertin told Tempo.
According to a Tempo source, Edhi started by holding the name badge pinned to the 40-year-old's left breast. Edhi's fingers, said the source, not only held the badge but also touched the sensitive part of her body. Ertin was incensed but helpless.
The incident in early August became quite a story among police officers at the Southeast Sulawesi Police Department. According to another Tempo source, Ertin's husband—also a police officer assigned to the same place—punched out a window from anger at the inappropriate treatment of his wife.
A number of police officials secretly called a meeting to discuss the case. It transpired that it was not only Ertin who had been groped by Edhi. The police officials agreed to report Edhi's behavior to National Police Chief, General Sutanto, and sent a classified letter early in August to Sutanto, complete with signatures and testimony of a number of policewomen who had suffered sexual harassment by Edhi.
According to the Tempo source, the harassment by Edhi usually began by summoning his subordinates to his office. This was also experienced by, for example, Kirana (also not her real name) who was assigned to the secretariat. Kirana's case “leaked out” after her colleagues noticed a change in her. “She was hugged by Edhi,” said the source. But she claimed to Tempo she was only patted on the shoulder. She said she did not report Edhi for his misbehavior. “I'm only a low-ranking officer. How could I win in my fight against a senior officer?” explained Kirana.
Although none of the female officers has reported forced sexual intercourse, according to Deputy Sr. Comr. Hamidah, head of Southeast Sulawesi Regional Police Career & Development Department, what Edhi did was tantamount to sexual harassment. “Touching, fingering or patting part of the body also constitute sexual harassment,” she said. On Wednesday a fortnight ago, at the Southeast Sulawesi HQ, Hamidah read out the all-Southeast Sulawesi Police female officers' demand that Edhi be fired. “Actually we were afraid, but as the general public knew about this, we became emboldened,” said Hamidah.
National Police HQ promptly looked into the case. The National Police Professional and Security Division instantly questioned Edhi upon receipt of the report from the Southeast Sulawesi Police. Some 12 witnesses were also summoned. Tuesday two weeks ago, General Sutanto fired Edhi and named Brig. Gen. Anang Juwono to replace him.
To date Edhi could not be reached for confirmation. A text message sent by Tempo to his cell phone was not answered. According to National Police Professional and Security Division head, Insp. Gen. Gordon Mogot, Edhi did not admit to the accusations. “But all the witnesses aggravated the case against him,” said Mogot. Two recommendations were made to the National Police Chief in regard to the misbehavior of the 1973 Police Academy graduate. First, he should be dishonorably discharged. Second, the case should be brought to court.
Nevertheless, it appears that Edhi's case will end in a hearing on the violation of the police’s ethical code rather than in a general court. According to Mogot, if brought to a public court, Edhi will likely be punished lightly; the reason being insufficient evidence. “The statement of the 12 victims is just one evidence,” said Mogot. Therefore, according to him, it is more fitting to have the case heard in the ethics tribunal. “He might be fired from the police corps,” he said.
By Abdul Manan, Dedy Kurniawan, Erwin Dariyanto
Tempo, No. 51/VI/22-28 August 2006