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Supreme Court refuses to review Pakpahan verdict

Reuters - August 13, 1997

Jakarta – Indonesia's Supreme court has said it will not review the conviction of independent labour leader Muchtar Pakpahan jailed on charges that he incited workers to strike, the Jakarta Post newspaper reported on Wednesday.

Chief Justice Sarwata was quoted by the newspaper as saying the Supreme Court could only consider a review if the request is made by a government institution.

'If I permit a ruling on a request by an individual, then I would have committed collusion,' Sarwata said, while answering reporters' questions. He did not elaborate.

[Pakpahan's lawyers had informed the court at the first hearing that they have 11 witnesses ready to testify that they received a circular from the union on March 25 1995, calling for the strikes to be delayed from April 1994 to October that year.]

Lawyers for Pakpahan last week began proceedings in the East Jakarta Court to review its decision in October 1996 to re-instate his four-year sentence for inciting riots in April 1994.

Pakaphan was jailed by a court in Medan for three years. The Medan High Court boosted the sentence to four years but the Supreme Court then freed him in April 1995 and quashed his conviction in September that year.

However in an unprecedented move, the Supreme Court reversed its earlier decision in October 1996 and upheld the conviction. The decision came after Pakpahan was arrested on subversion charges which carry a maximum penalty of death. That arrest came after the riots in Jakarta last year.


While awaiting a comment from Pakpahan's lawyers of this extraordinary decision, for the Supreme Court judge to allege that he would be accused of collusion in acting on a request for a review from an individual suggests that he is not acting on the basis of any legal procedure. In law, only a defendant may seek a review of a Supreme Court decision. The Court was therefore acting unlawfully by agreeing to make a review on the basis of a request from the prosecutor which is what happened in October 1996. This is much more likely to be a case of collusion.... with the Executive! The Court appears to be under instructions not to open the way for Pakpahan's sentence to be reviewed.