Jakarta. Antigraft investigators have arrested three judges from a court in Medan, North Sumatra, on suspicion of taking thousands of dollars in bribes.
Tripeni Irianto Putro, the chief judge of the Medan State Administrative Court, or PTUN, was arrested in the sting on Thursday by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), along with fellow judges Anir Fauzi and Dermawan Ginting, a bailiff named Yusril Sofyan, and an unidentified lawyer.
The bust came shortly after the lawyer delivered the cash, believed to be a bribe, to Tripeni at his office.
“From the scene, KPK investigators managed to confiscate cash in American dollars,” said Priharsa Nugraha, a spokesman for the KPK, although he did not disclose the exact amount.
The five were scheduled to be flown from Medan to the KPK headquarters in Jakarta later on Thursday.
PTUN spokesman Sugiyanto said that at the time of their arrest, the three judges had been hearing a case of alleged abuse of authority involving a former treasurer of the North Sumatra provincial administration.
The lawyer arrested, Sugiyanto said, was representing Fuad, the defendant in the case.
Legal expert Frans Hendra Winarta from Pelita Harapan University, outside Jakarta, said Thursday’s arrest highlighted the need to overhaul the prevailing legislation on lawyers.
The law, he said, held a loophole allowing lawyers to hide behind the lawyer-client privilege when caught in acts of corruption involving the judiciary.
“Society knows that lawyers mastermind many cases of bribery,” said Frans, himself a lawyer.
He also criticized the national bar association, Peradi, for failing to act tough on its members caught up in cases of graft.
“Lawyers caught bribing judges should be fired without warning for gross violation [of the ethical code of conduct]. But the bar organization says nothing, so cases of criminal and ethical violations remain rampant,” Frans said.
He added that any amendment to the law should allow recognition for other bar associations besides Peradi. “A single association causes authoritarianism. There is no healthy competition,” he said.