Supreme Court under scrutiny

Indonesian Corruption Watch has urged the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) to investigate alleged graft within the Supreme Court after the court refused to state publicly how appellants' administrative fees were managed.

ICW legal investigator Febri Diansyah said Friday there were indications the Supreme Court had misused administrative fees.

"The court lacks transparency in fee management. People have the right to know where their money goes," Febri said.

"The court has also refused to be audited by the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK), in violation of the Public Finance Management Law. The court is a state institution so, if it charges fees, the money belongs to the state and the court should publicly declare it in its financial report."

The Supreme Court charges administrative fees for people who want to appeal cases.

Under Supreme Court Decree No. 3/2002, an individual appellant in a civil case must pay Rp 500,000 (US$53). Under Supreme Court Decree No. 8/2002, case reviews attract an administrative fee of Rp 2.5 million.

ICW found the court had collected a total of Rp 31.1 billion in administrative fees between the beginning of 2007 and March 2008, or about Rp 2 billion per month.

"So, where did all the money go? The court should explain this. The KPK should investigate this further because it is about ordinary people's money," Febri said.

Last year, the Supreme Court refused to allow the BPK to audit a 2005-2006 annual administrative management report, saying the money was not considered state revenue.

The BPK said the Supreme Court had violated the Public Finance Management Law. The breach carries a maximum sentence of 18 months in jail and a Rp 500 million fine.

Supreme Court secretary Sareh Wiyono said the court had used all the administrative fees to cover expenses incurred during the trial process, such as photocopying or filing documents.

"So it's not true that we have stolen the money," Sareh told The Jakarta Post.

"The Supreme Court doesn't report on fee management because fees are not non-tax state revenue."

He said the government was drafting a regulation on administrative fees.

"The government is discussing whether administrative fees will be considered non-tax revenue or not. If they are, we will be responsible for reporting fee management to the public," Sareh said.

He added the Supreme Court would allow the BPK to audit fee management once the regulation took effect.

"The chief justice and the agency head have made an agreement about the audit," he said.(trw)

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