Probe fails to solve acid attack on Indonesian graft buster

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Novel Baswedan, a prominent Indonesian graft investigator, was left partially blinded by an acid attack that is yet to be solved

Novel Baswedan, a prominent Indonesian graft investigator, was left partially blinded by an acid attack that is yet to be solved (AFP Photo/Handout)

A six-month long investigation into an acid attack that left a prominent Indonesian corruption investigator partially blind has failed to identify the perpetrators, authorities said Wednesday, prompting howls of criticism from rights activists.

Novel Baswedan, a member of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), was attacked more than two years ago in Jakarta as he walked home from a mosque following early morning prayers.

Despite mounting public anger over the case, a multi-party fact-finding team announced Wednesday it had failed to identify the two men behind the attack or identify a possible motive.

"There were no witnesses who saw the attack and the victim himself could not recognise the perpetrators who were wearing full-face helmet," Nurkholis, a former chairman of Indonesia's human rights commission and leader of the team told a press conference.

The attack was likely linked to one of six high-profile corruption cases Baswedan was probing -- including a government project to issue new ID cards that allegedly saw about $170 million pilfered from government coffers, the team concluded.

Anti-graft investigators in Indonesia -- one of the world's most corrupt countries -- have been targeted in the past, and have reported having cars driven at them and receiving threats.

The 65-strong team –- which included police, rights activists and legal experts -- was set up in January amid growing public distrust over how police were handling the case.

Rights activists said the case set a dangerous precedent for the country’s war on graft.

"If a top graft buster is attacked and nothing is done about it, how do we expect corruption eradication to thrive?" Alghifari Aqsa, a human rights lawyer from the Jakarta Legal Aid Foundation, told AFP.

National police spokesman Muhammad Iqbal said a special team of investigators would be set up to pursue the case further.