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THE CASE OF HARRY BLECKERT
FEATURES & CONSEQUENCES
Fabricated Charges, 2-month Unlawful Detention, Bribery, Extortion, Business Ruined, Workers Unemployed, Family Flees Indonesia Having Lost Everything.
Harry Bleckert (a German citizen and resident of Bali from 1998) sets up an internet supply company in Bali, Indonesia under the name of his Indonesian wife (a mother and housewife). However, just days before launch, police raid his offices and seize his equipment. Unable to persuade the police to return his equipment and being averse to paying bribes, he files a complaint with the Corruption Eradication Committee, whereupon his Balinese wife is arrested on trumped-up charges and jailed for two months. Police Officers from ResKrim Bali, namely AKBP Dr. Edison H. Pand Jaitan, AKBP Edy Suswanto, AKP Tri Kuncoro, Idodo Simangunsong, Iptu Ahmad Jaelani, Zulfikar, Kombes AS Reniban and others, persecute the family, as do two prosecutors from the Attorney General's office in Bali: I.B. Wiswantanu (Chief Prosecutor in Bali ) and Suhadi (put in charge of the case by I.B. Wiswantanu). Ultimately, the entire family has little choice but to flee the country, having been traumatised and lost everything.
2nd October, 2001 - Using the legal services of Notary I Putu Chandra, SH., Harry Bleckert (German national) establishes CV. Candi Internet under the name of his Balinese wife, Sang Ayu Made Karnasih, to operate as internet cafe, web hosting and web design company from premises at Jalan Raya Seminyak No. 16B, Kuta, Bali.
2002 – Harry Bleckert participates in Bali SOS, a voluntary organization that supports bomb victims and Bali's tourism industry after the Kuta 2002 terrorist bombings. Harry Bleckert devotes months to helping those hurt in the attacks and their relatives.
19th April, 2004 - PT. Pasifik Lintas Buana (VIP.net - one of Indonesia's main telecoms providers) and CV. Candi Internet sign a joint venture agreement conferring an exclusive WiFi (cordless internet) subnet franchise (CandiNet) on the latter and, thus, bringing Candi Internet into competition with large and influential telecommunications companies. Having done the necessary research, Candi Internet finds several interested prospective customers and works to ensure it is legally compliant (at the time, most ISPs in Bali were unlicensed).
Bleckert buys the equipment needed - the same equipment everyone else in the WiFi business in Indonesia uses. Having successfully installed and trialled his WiFi service, Bleckert formalises his customer service pricing and publishes a price comparison page on the Internet to showcase his highly competitive rates. PT Rabik Bangun Pertiwi, aka Blueline Broadband Internet, an existing WiFi provider, takes exception to this because Candi Internet's prices are likely to attract away its customers. In fact, Candi Internet has provisional agreements with three of Blueline’s most prestigious customers to trial their service and interest from many more of Blueline’s customers who want to see how well Candi Internet fairs in the trials.
23rd September, 2004 – the Director General of PostTel (the licensor of ISP’s) holds a meeting in Bali which the Attorney of the Bali Court District, an official from the Bali Affairs Administration, two top ranking officials from Bali Police Department and Bleckert attend. The Director General states that franchisees / subnets of a legitimate ISP do not need to be licensed as ISP’s, but must adhere to the rules set by APJII. He also says there is a three month amnesty for any unlicensed ISP to become licensed, giving Candi Internet until 23rd December, 2005 to obtain a license.
October 2004 - Candi Internet enters into a partnership with PT. Tariq Habibie Communications (THC) to operate its satellite communications system. THC holds a NAP license issued by DirJen PosTel. SpeedCast provides Internet services to THC via their satellite transponders.
21st October, 2004 – Bleckert sends out an email to Candi Internet's trial customers and prospective customers saying the network has been successfully tested and is ready for launch on Monday, 25th October. That very evening three out-of-uniform police officers - Idodo Simangunsong, Zulfikar and an unknown officer – conduct a search and take photographs of Candi Internet's offices. Staff are threatened with imprisonment if they impede the search in any way.
23rd October, 2004 – At 12 noon, without a warrant, three officers (with two more standing by) from the Cyber Crime Unit of the Bali police enter the offices of Candi Internet. The police originally accuse the company of having an “illegal price comparison with Blueline” on their web site. Officer Idodo Simangunsong demands to be shown Candi Internet’s website on Candi's office computer and, specifically, the webpage on which Candi's prices are compared with other WiFi providers, including Blueline. This page, say the police, is illegal. Earlier, Mr. Gustave de Kok, Director of Blueline, and Harry Bleckert had exchanged views over this very same page by email. Finally, the police declare that Candi Internet, which was to operate like any other subnet, is unlicensed and, therefore, illegal.
Despite being shown a subnet licence, Officer Tri Kuncoro then (contrary to Article 38 Jo. 129 KUHAP – Indonesia's criminal code) removes Candi Internet's equipment (about US$8,000 in value), including one Comtect EF data CDM 570-L Band Satellite Modem and one MP 800 router. In fact, Candi Internet’s equipment was bought from the main supplier of such equipment in Indonesia, PT Telemedia in Jakarta, and is the very same unapproved equipment being used by such major telecoms companies as Telkom and Indosat. Much of the new technology used by the telecommunications companies in Indonesia at the time is not approved, as the approval process is too slow to cater for all the applications. In any case, it is not until January, 2005, that a law requiring approval comes into effect and this law gives internet providers 12 months from the time the equipment is first used in the market to obtain approval.
When the police conclude that the non-approval of equipment and publication of a price comparison webpage cannot be used in charges against Candi Internet to justify their seizure of equipment, they and Prosecutor Suhadi, use 'environmental hazard', 'health risk' and 'illegal equipment' allegations instead, despite the fact that the big ISPs in Indonesia, Telkom and IndoSat, use the very same equipment.
PT. Kommunikas' premises were also search by the police on 22nd October, 2004. The company lacked ISP and NAP licences, but had been operating as an ISP for more than a year. The police confiscated some standard PCs, but did not shut it down. The six unlicensed, operating ISPs on Bali where subject to a police search; but none had its transmitting equipment confiscated or was reported to the DirJen PosTel, Jakarta.
25th October, 2004 – I Made Karta Susila (Candi Internet's chief engineer) asks Police Officer Tri Kuncoro to return the equipment to Candi Internet, but the request is declined and, instead, Sang Ayu Made Karnasih is required to attend at Bali's central police station for interrogation. Thus, the planned first day of business for Candi Internet SP (a Monday) is cancelled and the company does not commence internet service provision.
28th October, 2004 - Chief Unit UCC Tri Kuncoro questions Sang Ayu Made Karnasih without the presence of her lawyer.
29th October, 2004 - Sang Ayu Made Karnasih attends at Bali's central police station with the invoices the police requested. Although the interrogation of Sang Ayu Made Karnasih takes two days, quite irregularly, in the official record of it only the first day is mentioned, and copies of these records are never produced to Sang Ayu Made Karnasih.
November, 2004 - Various local newspapers denigrate CV Candi Internet.
Early November, 2004 - Judith Lubis of the Ketua Asosiasi Warnet Indonesia (Indonesia's internet kiosk owners' association) offers to resolve the problem for US$14,000: US$7,000 for her and US$7,000 for an unnamed person in the police. Although having paid her travel expenses, Harry declines the offer on principle and later finds out that Ms. Lubis is being investigated for corruption in Jakarta. Earlier Harry had, in any case, received his own offer, through his lawyer, from the Chief Prosecutor for Bali, Mr. Wiswantanu, who offered to solve the problem for US$5,500.
4th November, 2004 - Chief of Cyber Crime Unit in Bali, AKP Tri Kuncoro calls Sang Ayu Made Karnasih and Harry Bleckert to meet him at Bali Bakery at 8 p.m. to talk about the possibility of terminating the case. At the meeting Tri Kuncoro asks for an extortion fee of Rp.100 million (US$10,000) to end the case, saying the money will go to his superior in Polda Bali (Bali District Police).
22nd December, 2004 - At 8.40 a.m. Police Officer Zulfikar calls requesting the presence of Sang Ayu Made Karnasih at Bali's central police station every Monday and Thursday, saying it will “be at your own risk if you don't show up”. This is despite the senior investigator agreeing that all such requests would be in writing. At other times pressure is exerted on her by Officers Idodo Simangunsong and Iptu Ahmad Jaelani who shout at her in front of witnesses that they will issue a warrant for her arrest.
January, 2005 - The case file is delivered to the Attorney General's Office in Bali, from where Prosecutor Ida Bagus Wiswantana returns the files to the police for them to strengthen the case.
16th March, 2005 – The case file is again sent to the Attorney General's Office, whereupon Sang Ayu Made Karnasih is threatened by Prosecutor Ida Bagus Wiswantana that unless she pays Rp.4 million immediately, she will be arrested. Sang Ayu Made Karnasih pays up.
10th April, 2005 – Having exhausted all reasonable prospect of getting his equipment back from the police, Bleckert writes to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) in Jakarta, pointing out the obvious flawed nature of the police action.
25th April, 2005 – The KPK decides to investigate the Candi Internet case on the basis of the facts reported to its chairman Erry Hardjapamekas.
2nd May, 2010 - At 6 p.m. Prosecutor Suhadi (one of the officers complained about in Bleckert's letter to the KPK) leaves three legally required (but backdated) documents at the Candi Internet offices, as Sang Ayu Made Karnasih refuses to accept a letter of summons from him on the grounds that it is unlawful to summons a person for the very next day.
6th May, 2005 - At about 3 p.m., Prosecutor Suhadi calls the Candi Internet offices and asks where Sang Ayu Made Karnasih is, and is told by a member of staff that her whereabouts are not known. At 5:08 p.m. Suhadi arrives at the offices in person and pushes past Bleckert to enter. He says he has a letter of summons for Sang Ayu Made Karnasih to attend court and waits for one and a half hours without any authorisation (recorded on video). Suhadi is made well aware of the complaint against him and others to the KPK.
17th May, 2005 – Prosecutor Suhadi has now tried four times to deliver a letter of summons for Sang Ayu Made Karnasih, each time without complying with proper procedure. These attempts include visiting the Bleckert family home in Canggu and a visit to Sang Ayu Made Karnasih's family in Gianyar, one hour's drive from Denpasar, where he harassed the family for two hours.
19th May 2005 – The KPK writes confirming that the prosecution of Sang Ayu Made Karnasih and Candi Internet should be suspended pending investigations into police and prosecutorial corruption and extortion.
13th June 2005 - The KPK writes to Bleckert saying they have contacted the Bali police (the Police Chief in Bali is Made Pastika) and have referred the matter to the Chief of the Indonesian Police and the State Prosecutor. Thus, it is now very clear to the Bali police that Bleckert does not intend to be compliant in their extortion. Two police cars park in front of the Bleckert family home at about 1 p.m. for a while. At about 2 p.m. Prosecutor Suhadi calls Candi Internet asking whether Sang Ayu Made Karnasih is there. Sang Ayu Made Karnasih, along with her eight-year-old daughter Merry, is by now frightened and traumatised by all that is happening.
15th June, 2005 – At 8 a.m., as Bleckert and Sang Ayu Made Karnasih are visiting the village head, three police appear on motorcycles saying they have an arrest warrant. One gets into their car and accompanies them to Bali central police station. There Sang Ayu Made Karnasih is taken to the office of Tri Kuncoro to await the arrival of Prosecutor Suhadi. After a while she is taken, at 10.30 a.m., to the office of Prosecutor Suhadi, where she is told that Bleckert is their real target, not her. A little later she is taken to Bali District Court where, at about 1 p.m., she is taken before three judges and Prosecutor Suhadi applies to have her detained because she did not comply with the court summons he had tried to serve on her. When her lawyer, Azhari, explains the circumstances the court refuses the request; but after Prosecutor Suhadi objects the court decides Sang Ayu Made Karnasih should be detained for 30 days unless a bail of Rp. 250 million is guaranteed. Since Bleckert could not be the guarantor as he is a foreigner, Sang Ayu Made Karnasih is taken to Kerobokan Prison.
17th June, 2005 - Sang Ayu Made Karnasih's brother, her brother-in-law and Bleckert meet at Bali District Court in the early morning to sign the required documents to bail Sang Ayu Made Karnasih out of prison for a surety of Rp.250 million (a US$27,000 bail bond). They meet the presiding judge, Nyoman Karma, in his office and lawyer Azhari is confident the necessary documents can be signed that morning. However, the court secretary, who is required to prepare the release documents, cannot be located. She returns at 11 a.m., just minutes after Judge Nyoman Karma left. He refuses to return when contacted by mobile phone.
20th June, 2005 – After the intervening weekend the judges refuse to sign the release papers.
21st June, 2005 - Sang Ayu Made Karnasih is brought from prison by police bus and kept in a cage together with about 30 men until Prosecutor Suhadi appears and orders her to be brought to the court room. She is allowed to wait outside the court room until the session starts. Again the judges refuse to sign the release papers, saying they are still checking them.
28th June, 2005 - Sang Ayu Made Karnasih arrives at court in handcuffs and must wait in the prisoner cage until the court session starts at 1 p.m. Yet again the judges refuse to sign the papers, saying they are still checking them.
6th July, 2005 - Lawyer Azhari informs Bleckert that Sang Ayu Made Karnasih will be released only against a cash bail. The last time a court in Bali asked for a cash bail was in July, 2004, as this is very unusual for Bali. Bleckert's resources are exhausted by this time and Sang Ayu Made Karnasih's family is poor. But Bleckert's friend offers to lend him Rp.100 million.
7th July, 2005 - Judge Nyoman Karma agrees over the 'phone to release Sang Ayu Made Karnasih the next day for a cash bail of Rp.100 million.
8th July, 2005 - Sang Ayu Made Karnasih's brother in law, lawyer Azhari and Bleckert meet at Bali District Court at 8 a.m. Bleckert's cheque for the equivalent of US$10,800 is validated and he is asked to sign a receipt which does not mention the date of Sang Ayu Made Karnasih's release. Bleckert refuses to sign. He meets Judge Nyoman Karma who angrily berates him and demands that Bleckert sign the receipt. Bleckert again refuses and the judge shouts and leaves the room. Getting bail money refunded in Bali is notoriously difficult.
11th July, 2005 - The only witness questioned in court was Nasrun Sanif, the director or PT. Pasifik Lintas Buana, who explains why Candi Internet's joint venture (which does not make Candi Internet an ISP), business plan and preparations are completely legal and common in Indonesia.
13th July, 2005 - Sang Ayu Made Karnasih is informed by the prison authorities that the court has committed her to another 60 days in jail on the grounds that she is suspected of having violated the Telecommunications Act No. 36 of 1999, because she was "unlawfully operating illegal (unapproved) telecommunications equipment". This, despite the fact that the equipment was never used for internet service provision and was the same as that used by existing ISPs in Indonesia. The bail (security) to get her released is set by judge Nyoman Karma at Rp.250 million; but the papers are still being processed!
27th July, 2005 – Bleckert is summonsed to appear before the police on this date, a public holiday when the police station is closed for this purpose. Thus, Bleckert cannot comply. In any case, the summons was unlawfully served on Bleckert's accountants. He is charged with criminal defamation for claiming there is corruption in the Bali police and reporting it to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK). Aware that he would be no help to his wife if he were jailed, he flees the country with his daughter, Merry.
Mid-August, 2005 – With Bleckert's help, Sang Ayu Made Karnasih is acquitted of all criminal charges by Bali High Court and released. A German visa is obtained so that she can leave Bali for Germany to be with her family. So traumatised is she by the experience, she decides never to return to Bali where she might again be the victim of police extortion.
Bali Chief Prosecutor, Suhadi (who prosecuted Australian, Schapelle Corby), appeals to the Supreme Court in Jakarta against the Bali High Court judgement which gave Sang Ayu Made Karnasih the right to compensation (in local parlance called 'rehabilitation') from the police.