Graft Suspect Suryadharma Ali Files Pretrial Motion Against KPK
[This story was first published at 5:57 p.m. on Monday, Feb. 23, 2015, and this update includes details and comments]
Jakarta. Former minister Suryadharma Ali has filed a pretrial motion against the national antigraft agency on Monday for naming him a graft suspect last year, proving predictions that Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan’s recent success in a similar move would inspire other graft suspects to follow suit — further undermining Indonesia’s battle against corruption.
Suryadharma’s legal team filed the motion with the South Jakarta District Court, the same court that granted — to much public outcry — the National Police chief candidate’s pretrial motion against the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) for naming him a suspect in a bribery case last month.
Suryadharma’s lawyer, Humphrey R. Djemat, alleged on Monday that the antigraft agency had violated the law by naming the former religious affairs minister as a suspect in May last year over the embezzlement of hajj funds.
Humphrey accused the KPK of arbitrarily declaring his client as a suspect, after insufficient investigation and while lacking evidence.
“Naming [Suryadharma as a suspect] was illegitimate. He was named as a suspect too early; at a time when the investigation had just begun,” Humphrey told state-run news agency Antara. “The KPK only began calling witnesses and gathering evidence after they named Suryadharma a suspect. Additionally, the KPK has yet to clarify how much the state had supposedly lost.”
Humphrey admitted that Suryadharma decided to file the pretrial motion after Judge Sarpin Rizaldi, the sole judge who presided over Budi’s pretrial motion, ruled in favor of the police general.
The ruling ignored the public outcry over efforts to undermine the KPK in the wake of Budi being named a suspect.
Meanwhile, all four KPK leaders were reported to police over various old cases, leading police to name two — including chairman Abraham Samad — as suspects in what is widely seen as attempts to discredit the KPK leaders and weaken the highly respected antigraft body in retaliation for going after Budi.
Suryadharma, former chief of the United Development Party (PPP), has been charged with mismanaging the country’s multi-billion dollar hajj fund during his time as minister.
The KPK has at this stage charged him only with embezzlement, but Suryadharma could also face money-laundering charges as, according to information from the Financial Transaction Report and Analysis Center (PPATK), his wealth has grown dramatically.
Suryadharma skipped the KPK’s questioning last week, with his lawyer reporting he had been hospitalized.
Indonesia Corruption Watch researcher Donal Fariz meanwhile blames Judge Sarpin for Suryadharma’s move, saying the judge has opened the floodgates for lawbreakers to avoid scrutiny and disrespect ongoing legal processes against them.
“Suryadharma’s action is the beginning of a domino effect created by Sarpin’s rule in favor of Budi. Sarpin has created this dilemma. If the court rejects [Suryadharma’s] motion, the public would question the court’s credibility. The court would be viewed as being inconsistent,” Donal told the Jakarta Globe on Monday.
“And this won’t stop with Suryadharma. Other suspects will likely follow suit and these would be an insult to our law enforcement [efforts],” he added.
Donal said the Supreme Court must take the responsibility and address the debacle immediately to prevent other crime suspects from filing pretrial motions to challenge charges — not only against the KPK, but also the police and the courts.
He suggested that the Supreme Court should look into the KPK’s appeal against Sarpin’s verdict, while working with the Judicial Commission to probe allegations of an ethics violation by Sarpin, filed by several anti-corruption groups, including ICW.
“The only way to stop this is by canceling Budi’s pretrial verdict,” Donal said.
The KPK’s appeal against Sarpin’s verdict was previously rejected by the South Jakarta court, which argues verdicts on pretrial motions can not be appealed and that it was unnecessary to bring the case to the Supreme Court.
Prominent lawyer Todung Mulya Lubis said he doubted investigations into Sarpin’s alleged ethical violation would end misconceptions around pretrial motions that the judge has created.
He blamed Sarpin for the mess, accusing the judge of siding with law violators.
“It is no surprise that Suryadharma files the pretrial motion. This is a consequence Judge Sarpin couldn’t foresee when he decided to grant Budi’s motion,” Todung said.
The post Graft Suspect Suryadharma Ali Files Pretrial Motion Against KPK appeared first on The Jakarta Globe.
Source: The Jakarta Globe