Not a Question of Brains

JUDGES Kresna Harahap’s and Made Hendra Kusumah’s attempts to evade pursuit by journalists were in vain. Even though they left through the back door of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) offices, journalists and cameramen were still able to “catch” the pair. “It was nothing. Just a goodwill meeting,” said Kresna referring to a visit of around 20 minutes at the KPK.

On Tuesday last week, the two Corruption Court non-career ad hoc judges met with KPK Deputy Chairman Tumpak Hatorangan Panggabean. What was discussed, among other things, was the issue of the now almost completed Draft Law on the Eradication of Corruption produced by the government. Under the new law, the Corruption Court is under threat of being abolished.

According to Indonesia Corruption Watch’s (ICW) Legal and Justice Monitoring Coordinator, Emerson Yuntho, if the draft law is ratified, corruption case ad hoc judges will no longer exist. The signs are already apparent. Along with the deliberations on the draft law, he said that the Supreme Court is also preparing training for corruption judges to serve on district courts.

Chief Justice Bagir Manan denied that the preparations for corruption judges to serve on district courts are related to the deliberations of the draft law. “The training is merely to improve the quality of judges,” he said. In the first stage according to Bagir, around 100 judges will be trained. The minimum target is to have five special corruption judges in each court. The judges that graduate will be given a certificate declaring them “fit to handle corruption cases.”

According to Emerson, the “enthusiasm” for dismantling the Corruption Court is related to the actions of the non-career ad hoc judges that walked out of the Harini Wiyoso special hearing in June last year, when the judges pressed Bagir to present himself as a witness in a bribery case. But presiding judge Kresna Menon disagreed. “So, it’s like some never-ending grudge,” said Emerson.

In early February, a number of non-career ad hoc judges held a meeting at a restaurant in Jl. Veteran in Central Jakarta. The main agenda was discussing the accusations that said they were not proficient in procedural law. According to a Tempo source, the six-hour meeting resulted in a decision that the non-career judges could no longer expect the Supreme Court to “stand behind” them.

Hendra, who participated in the meeting, admitted that they did indeed discuss—among other things—developments in the deliberations of the Draft Law on the Eradication of Corruption along with various other charges made against them. Hendra denied that non-career judges are not proficient in procedural laws saying that higher courts also upheld the majority of verdicts made by non-career judges. “If the verdicts were poor, they would of course had been overturned by the Supreme Court.”

Firman Jaya Daeli, a former member of the House of Representatives (DPR) Legal Commission who participated in the deliberations of the Law on the KPK, said that the KPK and the Corruption Court were created because corruption was considered to be an extraordinary crime. The aim he said was also to push through reform within the courts, police, and prosecutor’s office. “It was just for a transition [period],” he said.

Deputy Chair of the DPR’s Legal Commission, Almuzammil Yusuf, explained that because corruption is still rampant, an ad hoc institution is still needed. “Moreover their performance has been satisfactory,” said the politician from the Justice & Prosperity Party (PKS). “Of the corruption cases heard in the Corruption Court there were no [defendants] that were released,” said Almuzammil. This, he said, is different from those cases that were heard in the public courts.

Putu Widnya, head of the Denpasar State Court, expressed another view. Putu shrugged off the contention that the district courts are unprepared to deal with corruption cases and agreed with the dismantling of the Corruption Court. “The ad hoc judges were only trained in just few months. [Their] ability in a court session is of course very far compared with a state court judge,” he said.

Putu can say what he wants, but ICW has some interesting data. According to monitoring by ICW, out of the 125 corruption cases that were heard in public courts in 2006, 40 of the defendants were released. Meanwhile in the Corruption Court, not one of the perpetrators in the 32 cases escaped legal indictment. “This is indeed not a problem of brains, but a mental issue,” said the head of Bali ICW, Putu Wirata.

Abdul Manan, Rini Kustiani, Rofiqi Hasan (Denpasar)

Tempo Magazine, No. 25/VII/Feb 20 - 26, 2007


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