Court Hears Pretrial Motion Filed by Graft Suspect Suryadharma
Jakarta. The South Jakarta District Court on Tuesday heard a pretrial motion filed by former religious minister Suryadharma Ali against the national anti-graft agency — the second such move by a corruption suspect in an effort to dispute his suspect status.
The first hearing of Suryadharma’s pretrial case took place one and a half months after the same court, in an unprecedented ruling, approved a similar motion by National Police chief candidate Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan after the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) named him a bribery suspect in January.
Experts have slammed the sole judge in Budi’s trial, Sarpin Rizaldi, for the controversial verdict, predicting that it would inspire other graft suspects to take similar action.
Suryadharma has been the first to prove concerns about the “Sarpin Effect” were well-founded, having filed his pretrial motion against the KPK with the South Jakarta District Court last month.
He is disputing the anti-graft agency’s naming of him as a suspect last year over the graft-ridden management of Indonesia’s Hajj pilgrimage funds by the Ministry of Religious Affairs.
Suryadharma’s lawyers have argued that the KPK breached the law in its move against the former minister and that there was another motive behind the case.
The lawyers have also said the anti-graft body was not authorized to investigate suspected corruption in Indonesia’s Hajj fund management.
The former chairman of the United Development Party (PPP), who was forced to step down from the party leadership and his ministerial post because of the graft allegations, has also demanded that the KPK pays him Rp 1 trillion ($76 million) in compensation for “social losses” he has suffered because of the graft charges.
His lawyers quoted Sarpin’s February verdict in Budi’s case to support Suryadharma’s similar move against the KPK.
The KPK’s attorney, Chatarina Girsang, said Suryadharma’s motion was unfounded.
“Arguments used by the plaintiff to support his pretrial motion are incorrect and flawed,” Chatarina said.
She added that Sarpin’s verdict could not be used to support the motion, because judges at several other courts, including those in Bengkulu, the Central Java town of Purwokerto and the West Java district of Sumedang, have thrown out similar motions filed against them on the basis that they are not under those district courts’ jurisdiction.
“It is not right to qualify [pretrial motions against suspect statuses] as within the jurisdiction [of district courts],” said Nur Chusniah, another KPK lawyer.
Suryadharma’s first pretrial hearing was originally scheduled for Monday, but it was adjourned as the KPK’s legal team failed to show their assignment letter to represent the KPK in the trial.
Judge Tati Hardiyanti, the sole judge in Suryadharma’s pretrial motion, said the second hearing would be held on Wednesday, during which Suryadharma’s lawyers are expected to explain their arguments.
The verdict on the case will be issued next week, Tati said.
Aside from Suryadharma, a number of other graft suspects also have filed pretrial motions against the KPK — all with the South Jakarta District Court.
They include former Supreme Audit Agency chief and tax director general Hadi Purnomo; a former processing director at state-owned oil and gas firm Pertamina, Suroso Atmo Martoyo; and former Democratic Party lawmaker Sutan Bhatoegana.
The first hearings of Hadi and Suroso were also originally scheduled for Monday, but were adjourned as the KPK’s legal representatives failed to attend.
Sutan’s pretrial motion, meanwhile, has been rejected because KPK prosecutors have submitted results of investigations into his case to the Jakarta Anti-Corruption Court, according to South Jakarta District Court spokesman Made Sutrisna.
“Based on … the penal code, a pretrial motion is annulled when the case itself has gone to the court,” Made said in his office on Tuesday.
KPK spokesman Priharsa Nugraha has denied allegations that the KPK deliberately failed to make court appearances for pretrial motions in order to slow down the processes, while speeding up its investigations into related graft cases.
That way, like the case with Sutan’s, the other pretrial motions may also be annulled when they head to court.
“[Sutan’s] case proceeds to court because prosecutors has completed the investigations, has examined the investigation documents, so the case has entered the prosecution stage,” Priharsa said at the KPK’s headquarters in South Jakarta on Monday.
He denied that the KPK had sped up investigations to avoid pretrial motions.
Meanwhile, calls are mounting for the Supreme Court, the government and lawmakers to interfere in the pretrial motion debacle.
An expert team formed by Andalas University’s (Unand) Legal Aid and Consultation Foundation (LKBH), which has called Sarpin’s verdict “a blunder,” said the legal chaos would be widespread.
“Considering that [Sarpin’s] verdict will have wide effects on investigations of criminal cases in general, it is necessary for the Supreme Court to exercise its supervisory functions and ensure that every judge comply with the Criminal Code,” Unand lecturer and LKBH executive Khairul Fahmi said.
“On the other hand, the law may not regulate this, but the pretrial motion judge [Sarpin] has declared a suspect naming as an object of pretrial motions.
“Therefore, we recommend that the government and the House immediately revise regulations concerning pretrial motions in the Criminal Code.”
Separately, criminal law expert Agustinus Pohan of Bandung’s Parahyangan University said the KPK would be exhausted with all the pretrial motions it was facing, and many more that are expected to come its way, if the issue is unresolved.
“This [problem] will undoubtedly escalate and threaten criminal law processes. It will disrupt the country’s judicial processes,” Agustinus told a public discussion in Jakarta on Tuesday.
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