Sacked Indonesian graft investigators will fight dismissal in court.

Dozens of employees who were controversially removed from Indonesia’s anti-graft agency will appeal their dismissal, staff members said on Thursday, opposing what they saw as an attempt to weaken a body that prosecuted hundreds of politicians and businesspeople.

Fifty-seven KPK employees were fired after learning they had failed a civil service exam, the results of which they claimed were withheld. The Ombudsman and human rights commision suspected mismanagement, and the KPK defended the exam.

Employees bemoaned their departure on their last day of work on Thursday.

“I’d be lying if I said I wasn’t sad,” said investigator Yudi Purnomo Harahap, one of three employees who confirmed a plan to appeal to the state administrative court.

“There’s sadness in leaving this office in such an inhumane way,” Yudi told Reuters.

The president’s office referred Reuters to the KPK’s spokesperson, who did not immediately respond to requests for comment on the employees’ appeal and allegations of foul play.

At the KPK office in Jakarta, former KPK staffers praised the employees, who they said were being punished for their commitment to fighting graft, and for making powerful enemies.

“They’re heroes, they’ve dedicated themselves to erasing corruption without favours,” said former KPK chief Abraham Samad.

Indonesia’s police chief this week said dismissed employees could join the force, an offer Yudi said he appreciated, adding colleagues were considering it.

Overall, 1,300 staff took the test, part of a transition for employees of the independent KPK into the state bureaucracy.

Controversy has surrounded the composition of the test, with employees asked of their sexual desires or whether they pled allegiance to Indonesia’s state ideology over religion.

The KPK has previously denied the exam was designed as a pretext to sack employees, as alleged in June by Novel Baswedan, one of Indonesia’s best known graft investigators.

Critics say the KPK, established in 2002, has weakened under President Joko Widodo, with revisions to a 2019 law that led to street demonstrations.

“There should be no systematic weakening of the institution … because our transparency and accountability will always be questioned,” Agus Harimurti Yudhoyono, chairman of the opposition Partai Demokrat party, told Reuters.

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