Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) filed a report with the Judicial Commission on Wednesday that singled out 221 judges for often freeing corruption defendants of all charges.
The judges are from 57 district courts, 3 high courts and the Supreme Court.
“We did some research from 2005 to July 2009 and found that out of the 1,643 corruption defendants handled at various levels of the judiciary, 812 of them were freed and the rest were only given a light sentence, while the rest were even put on probation,” ICW legal researcher Febri Diansyah said, when meeting with member of Judicial Commission Soekotjo at the commission’s office.
He said there was nothing wrong with judges freeing defendants of all charges, “the question is whether such verdicts have a strong basis”.
“We are concerned with the high level of corruption defendants walking away without being charged or punished, and question whether career judges at district courts are committed to eradicate corruption.”
Illian Deta Arta Sari, an ICW coordinator, said ICW was suspicious of certain judges who often freed
“There is also favoritism when it comes to which judges will handle the cases,” she said.
Therefore they asked the commission to evaluate the judges. If the commission found ethical code violations or irregularities behind the judges’ verdicts, they expected the commission to recommend that the Supreme Court fire the judges.
District courts have long been under the spotlight for alleged corrupt practices among officials, including judges expected to uphold justice.
“We expect to see the Judicial Commission place itself in a dominant position to fight against corruption in the judiciary,” ICW’s investigation division Tama Satria Langkun said.
Soekotjo said he would bring the report to the commission’s plenary meeting for discussion.
Febri said the report played an important part in presenting the perspective of most career judges when fighting against corruption.
“We can see that in the latest draft of the Corruption Court bill, the number of ad hoc judges will be reduced and therefore the number of career judges will increase,” he said.
Febri was concerned that if that was the case, the spirit to eradicate corruption would fade away.
Supreme Court spokesman Nurhadi said that since ICW had exposed problems with certain judges to the media first, they in turn would use the media to address “the accusation”.
“The number [of free-of-charge verdicts] presented by ICW is invalid, we don’t handle that many corruption cases,” he said. He could not comment further as they were still gathering data to counter ICW’s accusation.