Judge Quells ‘Sarpin Effect’ Fears in Suryadharma Hajj Graft Case
Jakarta. The Corruption Eradication Commission, known as the KPK, has said a ruling by the South Jakarta District Court could end the influx of graft suspects looking to have their charges dropped before they are indicted.
The court on Wednesday rejected a pretrial motion filed against the KPK by graft suspect and former religious affairs minister Suryadharma Ali.
In her ruling, Judge Tatik Hadiyanti said that Suryadharma’s attempt to challenge his status as a corruption suspect is beyond the jurisdiction of a pretrial hearing as stipulated by the Code of Criminal Procedures (Kuhap).
Under the code, a pretrial motion is only authorized to hear technical aspects of an investigation, such as the processes leading to arrest and seizure of assets, and not weigh in on the substance of the criminal charge itself, which can only be determined after the indictment of the suspect.
Wednesday’s ruling invalidated the decision made by Tatik’s colleague at the same court, Judge Sarpin Rizaldi, who in February granted a similar motion lodged by former National Police chief candidate Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan.
Since Sarpin’s ruling, the anti-graft body as well as other law enforcement agencies, have been overwhelmed by an influx of graft suspects looking to have their charges dropped, including Suryadharma, a trend widely dubbed as “The Sarpin Effect.”
“We hope [the ruling on Suryadharma’s case] can serve as a reference for other judges hearing a pretrial motion,” KPK interim deputy chairman Johan Budi said at his office shortly after the ruling.
“From early on we always felt that a suspect status is not the jurisdiction of a pretrial hearing.
“But the KPK cannot intervene the power vested in a court of law,” he continued in a clear reference to Sarpin’s ruling.
“However we will continue to focus our strength and thoughts to face [other] pretrial motions.”
The court is also hearing a similar motion filed by former Democratic Party legislator Sutan Bhatoegana who had been named a suspect after allegedly accepting bribes during his chairmanship of the House of Representatives’ oversight commission for energy in 2013.
Hadi Purnomo, the former chief of the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK); former Bangkalan, East Java district chief Fuad Amin; and former minister Jero Wacik; have also filed pretrial motions challenging their status as graft suspects.
Hadi, who was the director general for taxation at Indonesia’s Ministry of Finance between 2001 and 2006, was named a corruption suspect in April last year for allegedly helping Bank Central Asia avoid a large tax bill in 2004.
Meanwhile, Fuad is charged with accepting kickbacks in connection to a gas concession in the district.
Jero has been named a graft suspect in two separate cases: the first emerged during his stint as energy and mineral resources minister and another while he was tourism minister.
Suryadharma, former chief of the United Development Party (PPP), has been charged with mismanaging the country’s multi-billion dollar Hajj fund.
Suryadharma’s lawyer Humphrey Djemat criticized the court’s ruling saying that Judge Tatik must act beyond what the Kuhap allows.
“When someone is declared a suspect his human rights have been violated,” Humphrey declared. “There are travel bans, there are confiscations.”
“Those are forceful acts [described by the Kuhap],” he added.
Suryadharma is still considering his next legal move, including a plan to file a civil lawsuit against the KPK, seeking Rp 1 trillion ($77.2 million) in damages, Humphrey said.
The former religious affairs minister, who has not been arrested, has snubbed several KPK summonses, using his pretrial motion as grounds.
KPK spokesman Priharsa Nugraha said with the court throwing out his attempt to have his suspect status dropped, the anti-graft agency is considering to issue a forced summons.
“There is nothing in the law which says a suspect can refuse to be questioned simply because he is filing a pretrial motion,” Priharsa said.
“Investigators have certain rights which they consider using,” he added.
The same move could also be applied to Jero, who skipped a round of KPK questioning on Monday.
The Democratic Party politician is scheduled to be questioned again today.
The Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) has recorded more than 600 reported corruption cases in Indonesia last year, with an estimated cost of trillions of rupiah in losses to the state.
Politicians from the House of Representatives and members of the police and judiciary were among the 2014 tally, as were 81 district and provincial legislators and city councilors.
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Source: The Jakarta Globe