Jakarta – The South Jakarta District Court's decision to hand down a relatively lenient sentence to justice collaborator Second Agent Richard Eliezer last week marked a breakthrough in the enforcement of the law and the country's efforts to improve its criminal justice system. Such a reward should inspire more people to help law enforcers uncover major crimes and catch big fish.
Richard received "only" one and a half years' imprisonment despite being found guilty of shooting Brig. Nofriansyah Yosua Hutabarat, compared with the death penalty for his former boss, two-star police general Ferdy Sambo, the main instigator in the premeditated murder case. The court found Richard shot the hapless Yosua on Ferdy's orders.
Richard's role as justice collaborator in the high-profile case may be even more rewarding as the Directorate General of Penitentiaries is considering remission for himThe court had accepted Richard's offer to act as a justice collaborator, which proved to help the panel of judges find incriminating evidence that brought clarity to the murder case, except for the real motive behind the killing of Yosua. All the defendants have been sentenced in line with their roles in the murder and will soon face another trial for alleged obstruction of justice, thanks in part to Richard's testimony.
Indonesia has long recognized the role of justice collaborators and will need them more in particular to ensnare corrupt people who have managed to evade justice because they can silence key witnesses through their exercise of power, or because the witnesses are partners in crime and are therefore afraid they will end up rotting in jail.
The corruption case involving former National Police Traffic Directorate chief Insp. Gen. Djoko Susilo was uncovered partly due to the help of a justice collaborator. Investigators also disclosed the role of two police generals in the escape of graft convict and tycoon Djoko S. Tjandra due to the admissions of a justice collaborator. In 2004, an Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) lawmaker led the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) to fellow politicians who accepted bribes from a candidate for the Bank Indonesia governor's position.
The decline in Indonesia's Corruption Perception Index should give President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo cause for concern as it will undermine the government's credibility. To regain the faith of both the domestic and international audiences in its anticorruption commitment, the role of justice collaborators will be more crucial now than ever.
But not all justice collaborators, as well as whistle blowers, have found that their contribution paid dividends, although the law says they deserve rewards. The problem lies in interpretations by judges, whose independence is protected by the Constitution, and which vary when it comes to whether to treat a suspect as a justice collaborator.
About a decade ago the Corruption Court sentenced a defendant Abdul Khoir, a president director of a private company, to four years' imprisonment, heavier than the two and a half year jail sentence demanded by the prosecutors. The KPK had treated Abdul as a justice collaborator, leading the investigators to several House of Representatives members who accepted bribes from him.
The court insisted Abdul could not be considered a justice collaborator as he was the main actor behind the graft case.
The same court also denied a defendant in a solar home system project corruption case at the Energy and Mineral Resources Minsitry, Kosasih Abbas, his bid for leniency by becoming the KPK's justice collaborator. The court sentenced him to a four-year prison term.
Perpetrators of corruption and other crimes that Indonesia deems as extraordinary, drug abuse, human trafficking and acts of terrorism, will find ways to evade justice. Justice collaborators and whistle blowers will surely help law enforcers fight these. More than just legal and physical protection, certainly, rewards will encourage justice collaborators to step forward.
Richard, among other examples, has proved the merit of collaborating with justice.