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Cleaning up the judges

Tempo - October 4, 2019

Jakarta – A suspicious aroma is starting to emerge around the controversial Supreme Court ruling that quashed the conviction of former chairman of the Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency Syafruddin Arsyad Temenggung.

It has come to light that Syamsul Rakan Chaniago, one of the three judges who heard the case, met with Syafruddin's attorney, Ahmad Yani, two weeks before the judges' ruling. Firm action must be taken against this judge, and the ruling needs to be reexamined.

Syafruddin had been sentenced to 15 years in jail in the corruption case involving the issuing of a document certifying repayment of the loan from the Bank Indonesia Liquidity Assistance (BLBI) that had been received by Bank Dagang Nasional Indonesia (BDNI). The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) prosecutor accused Syafruddin of absolving the remainder of the BDNI debt for no clear reason. As a result of this, BDNI owner Sjamsul Nursalim avoided losing Rp4.58 trillion.

In the ruling at the Jakarta High Court, Syafruddin was said to have committed corruption together with Sjamsul and his wife, Itjih Nursalim, along with the Coordinating Minister for the Economy, who was also the chairman of the Financial Sector Policy Committee, Dorodjatun Kuntjoro-Jakti. By acquitting Syafruddin, the cases involving Sjamsul, Itjih and Dorodjatun also ended.

The ruling by the Supreme Court, in this case, had seemed irregular from the outset. How is it possible that three judges could have three different opinions and that the final ruling was only taken based upon the different categories of these opinions? As well as Syamsul Rakan Chaniago, who took the view that the case was a civil law matter, Judge Mohamad Askin said that the Syafruddin case was simply an administrative matter. Only judge Salman Luthan, agreed with the guilty verdict on Syafruddin. As a result, Syafruddin was acquitted because Askin and Syamsul agreed that the case is not a criminal one.

Therefore, the findings of the Supreme Court's Supervisory Board concerning violations of the code of ethics and judicial conduct guidelines by Syamsul Rakan deserves appreciation. However, punishment from the oversight agency in the form of the revocation of Syamsul's judicial authority for six months is not enough. After all, Syamsul is due to retire in exactly six months. The punishment for rotten judges should be more severe. He should be dishonorably dismissed from his position.

Therefore, the Judicial Commission must follow up on this case and impose heavy punishment on Syamsul. As the body that carries out to the constitutional mandate to preserve the respect, dignity and conduct of judges, the Commission must not allow a judge such as Syamsul to escape from heavier punishment.

The evidence of Syamsul's wrongdoing is undeniable. There is a CCTV recording that proves that Syamsul met with Ahmad Yani in a cafe in Plaza Indonesia, Central Jakarta. The meeting lasted almost an hour. There is also evidence of a telephone conversation between Syamsul and Ahmad Yani two weeks beforehand. All of this happened when the judges panel for the Syamsul case was intensively discussing the case.

The KPK must use the facts that have been uncovered in the violations of ethics by Syamsul as new evidence in the reexamination of the Syafruddin case. The endeavor to uncover corruption in the issuing of BLBI debt repayment documents can no longer be delayed. The Supreme Court no longer has any reason not to put right this irregular ruling. The dignity and integrity of the Supreme Court as the last bastion of justice in this country is at stake.

Read the Complete Story in this Week's Edition of Tempo English Magazine: https://magz.tempo.co/read/35962/cleaning-up-the-judges

Source: https://en.tempo.co/read/1255766/cleaning-up-the-judges