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KPK considers appeal after justice Gazalba Saleh acquitted for 3rd time

Jakarta Globe - May 29, 2024

Muhammad Aulia, Heru Andriyanto, Jakarta – The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) plans an appeal against the recent acquittal of Supreme Court Justice Gazalba Saleh which dealt the commission a third defeat against the same defendant.

Gazalba, who is accused of corruption and money laundering in his handling of civil cases, was released from the KPK detention facility in Jakarta on Monday evening after judges at the Central Jakarta District Court accepted his defense in a preliminary ruling even before witness cross-examinations, citing a technical error.

The panel accepted his argument stating that KPK prosecutors have no authority to prosecute the case due to a lack of assignment from the attorney general.

Judge Rianto Adam Pontoh ruled that the case must be annulled and ordered Gazalba's immediate release from detention.

KPK Deputy Chairman Nurul Ghufron criticized the district court judges for inconsistency in their ruling.

The panel comprising the same three judges – Fahzal Hendri, Rianto Adam Pontoh, and Sukartono – is currently trying another graft case prosecuted by the KPK and already delivered a guilty verdict in another case without disputing the legality of the prosecution team, Ghufron said on Tuesday.

He was referring to the ongoing graft trial against former agriculture minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo and a past trial that saw former Papua Governor Lukas Enembe convicted of graft. Lukas died recently from a complication of illnesses while serving his time.

"In those two cases, [the judges] didn't raise an issue about the competence and authority of KPK prosecutors," Ghufron said. "We in the KPK have reached a consensus to appeal against the ruling."

Prosecutors accused Gazalba of accepting at least Rp 650 million (approximately $40,500) while adjudicating an appeal case at the Supreme Court, allegedly in exchange for overturning a guilty verdict.

He allegedly accepted the money from Jawahirlul Fuad, who was sentenced to one year in prison in April 2021 by a district court in Jombang regency, East Java, for unauthorized toxic and hazardous waste management involving his metal company, Logam Jaya.

In addition to the bribery charges, prosecutors accused Gazalba of concealing the funds from other defendants seeking favorable rulings by converting them into other assets for personal gain.

According to the indictment, Gazalba utilized the funds to purchase a Toyota Alphard, acquire properties in Bogor and Bekasi, settle home installments in Kelapa Gading, North Jakarta totaling Rp 2.95 billion, and convert foreign currencies into rupiah.

Appointed as a Supreme Court judge in 2017, Gazalba has presided over numerous high-profile corruption cases.

He was initially arrested by the KPK in December 2022 for allegedly accepting bribes in connection with a bankruptcy lawsuit against a small lender in Central Java. His arrest followed that of fellow Supreme Court Justice Sudrajad Dimyati, also implicated in the same case.

However, a district court in Bandung acquitted Gazalba of all charges on August 1, 2023, prompting the KPK to appeal the decision.

His second victory in the legal battle against the KPK came on October 19, when fellow Supreme Court justices turned down the commission's appeal and upheld the acquittal.

Source: https://jakartaglobe.id/news/kpk-considers-appeal-after-justice-gazalba-saleh-acquitted-for-3rd-tim