Bali figures angry over
court ruling

The Jakarta Post, Denpasar/Jakarta

Balinese community reacted angrily on Friday to the Constitutional Court ruling declaring Law No. 16/2003 unconstitutional, as law experts recommended amendments to the Criminal Law Procedures Code to deal with terror suspects.

A group local figures said they will send a petition to the President, the House of Representatives and the Supreme Court to protest the verdict, which means Bali bombing suspects currently undergoing questioning cannot be charged under Law No. 15/2005 on antiterrorism as the law was enacted long after the Bali bombings on Oct. 12, 2002.

Those who signed the petition include the prince of Puri Kesiman Denpasar Anak Agung Ngurah Kusumawardhana, counselors of Bali bombing victims, Haji Agus Bambang Prayitno -- who helped blast victims right after the explosion -- and lecturer Putu Suastha.

In their statement, the group demanded dismissal of five Constitutional Court judges who voted against the retroactivity principle of the Law No. 16/2003. The verdict of the nine-member court is final and legally binding.

Bali tourism was hit hardest by the terror attack, which killed 202 people.

In Jakarta a rights activist has suggested that the government revise the Criminal Law Procedures Code to deal with terror suspects and charge them under the Criminal Code, instead of the draconian Antiterrorism Law.

""Revising the Criminal Law Procedures Code would be more applicable than continuing to use the Antiterrorism Law,"" Munir of the Indonesian Human Rights Watch (Imparsial) told a discussion held by Judicial Watch.

Munir said in the revision, law enforcers, such as police, could be given greater authority to investigate terrorist cases, including detaining suspects for seven days.

The police have complained that the Criminal Law Procedures Code, which allows detention of suspects for only one day, is insufficient to deal with terror cases.

Law No. 15/2003 on terrorism allows the police to detain a suspect for up to six months without charging them. Terrorism carries a maximum sentence of death.

""If we want to heavily punish terror suspects, we could use many articles in the Criminal Code. Although I'm against capital punishment, the code does carry a maximum penalty of death,"" Munir said.

The Constitutional Court declared unconstitutional Law No. 16/2003 on the retroactive application of Law No. 15/2003, under which all people implicated in the 2002 Bali bombings were charged.

The court's ruling has raised fears that the convicts, including those sentenced to death, could walk free if they file for a case review or appeal to a higher court.

Munir said the court's ruling was a logical consequence of Article 28 (i) of the amended Constitution, which maintains a non-retroactivity principle in Indonesia's judicial system.

""It's no surprise to me. We had advised that the retroactivity principle should not be recognized since it would create problems,"" he said.

He said based on international human rights principles and conventions, retroactivity can be applied in the case of extraordinary crimes, such as war crimes, genocide and crimes against humanity.

However, Munir dismissed the idea that an act of terrorism was an extraordinary crime, due to the unclear definition of terrorism.

Separately on Thursday, State Intelligence Agency (BIN) director A.M. Hendropriyono said his office needed more authority to detain terrorist suspects even before acts of terrorism occurred.

Citing the importance of having preemptive authority against terrorists, Hendropriyono urged the House of Representatives to start deliberation of the intelligence bill.

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