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Threats Against Indonesian Anti-Corruption Officials Probed

Protesters call on Indonesian President Joko Widodo to inaugurate General Budi Gunawan, who was last month named a corruption suspect, as national police chief during a march in Jakarta, Feb. 11, 2015.

Indonesian President Joko Widodo has ordered national police to investigate death threats against members of the nation's anti-corruption commission, which has had strained relations with the law enforcement body.

The president, widely known as Jokowi, said he discussed the matter this week with police and members of the commission, known by the initials KPK.

“It will be difficult to track down the perpetrator, but if it is clear who the perpetrators are, let’s arrest them," Jokowi said. "I have invited and told the police if the perpetrator is found, make an arrest immediately."

On Wednesday, Deputy KPK Chairman Bambang Widjojanto told reporters that phone and text messages to KPK employees and their families have included death threats.

Jimly Asshiddiqie, deputy chairman of a team formed to reduce tension between the police and the KPK, said threats against KPK could delay a resolution of the conflict.

"Therefore, we urge all parties, in accordance with the president’s instruction, to defuse the tension between the [KPK and the police]," Asshiddiqie said.

The tension centers on General Budi Gunawan, the president's police chief nominee, who has been named as a corruption suspect by the KPK.

Since the president announced a delay in the appointment last month, the national police have arrested and released Widjojanto and launched investigations against at least five other current and former KPK members, including the current chairman. Gunawan has also filed a legal challenge against the KPK investigation against him.

Jokowi, who has taken the unusual step of having almost all of his high-ranking appointees vetted by the KPK, ran for office on a tough anti-corruption agenda.

This report was produced in collaboration with the VOA Indonesian service.