Editorial: Prosperity or Pick-Pockets? The Verdict’s Out
Jakarta. The South Jakarta District Court’s decision to reject former Religious Affairs Minister Suryadharma Ali’s pretrial motion that sought to invalidate the Corruption Eradication Commission’s, or KPK, designation of him as a graft suspect on Wednesday show that there’s still some hope for our nation’s judges.
Judge Sarpin Rizaldi earlier in February ruled that then-three-star graft and money laundering suspect Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan did not fall within the KPK’s prosecutorial jurisdiction because, he ruled, Budi was neither a government employee, nor had his alleged criminal acts yet been proven to have met the legal threshold of monetary damages to the state, sufficient for the KPK to press charges.
Bizarre claims. Budi was then (and remains) a senior member of the National Police, and any lawyer worth their retainer fee could tell you it was way too early to for evidentiary rulings. Budi walked free, inspiring countless other graft suspects to petition for get-out-of-jail-free cards they likely do not deserve. The so-called “Sarpin Loophole” threatened to undermine the anti-graft body’s credibility.
Today we saw an indication that some on the judiciary are compelled by a sense of duty to uphold the rule of the law. Maybe Sarpin’s peculiar legal theory was a fluke; maybe not. Before we cheer Judge Tatik Hadiyanti’s decision to reject Suryadharma’s motion, remember that many more justices will soon rule on similar graft suspects’ pleas.
Our judiciary must remember that the decisions they make have far-reaching consequences beyond the instant cases before them.
The fate of our nation’s anti-corruption fight is in their hands. With graft the single greatest obstacle to our prosperity, these judges’ verdicts will decide the future of our nation and its people.
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Source: The Jakarta Globe