Politics


Indonesia: President eyes decree to save corruption court




Jakarta, 31 March (AKI/Jakarta Post) - Indonesia's resident Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has unveiled a plan to issue a government decree to retain the country's embattled corruption court if MPs fail to legislate by the end of the year.

Yudhoyono's toughened stance over the court comes ahead of parliamentary elections next month.

“The President will issue a Perppu (decree) to save the Corruption Court if the House cannot create the law before 19 December,” Denny Indrayana, an advisor to Yudhoyono on legal issues, said in Jakarta.

In 2007, Indonesia's Constitutional Court concluded ruled the Corruption Court's establishment in 2002 that its legal basis was unconstitutional.

The court then ruled that a new law on the Corruption Court had to be enacted by December 2009, or else the existing Corruption Court would have to be dissolved and forced to hand over trials under its investigation to district courts.

Observers and civil society groups have expressed concern that corruption cases be handled district courts when they are widely regarded as one of the country’s most corrupt institutions.

The current Corruption Court is the only court of its kind where prosecutors from Indonesia's Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) bring the accused to trial.

However, the Indonesian parliament, the House of Representatives, appears reluctant to pass a law on the court by the end of the year, sparking outrage among anti-corruption campaigners.

With parliamentary elections just over a week away, legislators have been accused of ignoring the deliberation process of crucial bills, including the Corruption Court bill, to focus on their campaign efforts.

The Corruption Court must be saved by either a law or a decree, Indrayana said.

“If we issue a Perppu, we can use the draft bill currently being discussed in the House, with some adjustments and input from the public,” Denny said.

Two articles within the bill are of particular concern to corruption watchdogs, however. One designates district court heads to chair regional corruption courts while another assigns to the district court chief the authority to select judges overseeing certain cases, such as those under review.

Importantly, the bill also grants the Supreme Court head and district court chief the right to decide on the balance of career and non-career judges sitting in district-level corruption courts.

The bill states the number of judges be odd, either three or five.

District court and career judges have a notorious history of colluding with corruption suspects appearing before them, which has created a veritable “court mafia” embedded in the country’s judicial system.

Many anti-corruption activists say the bill could be a strategy to weaken Indonesia's fight against graft.

It is feared that if the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) is defeated each time it presents cases to the Corruption Court, its power and authority could be undermined.


 

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