Throw in the towel: Activists throw in their towels during a protest in Jakarta on Monday night after President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono announced his unconvincing response to the fact-finding team’s recommendations to fight an alleged plot to weaken Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK). JP/Nurhayati
Questions lingered while disappointment remained after President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono announced his ruling on a high-profile law case implicating suspended anti-graft body deputies in a long awaited speech.
Yudhoyono said in his much-anticipated speech on Monday at 8 p.m. that the case against the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) deputy chairmen Bibit Samad Rianto and Chandra M. Hamzah should not be taken to court.
The President, however, did not make it quite clear if what he meant was that the investigations by the police and the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) against both deputies should be halted — or how it should be done - as recommended by the fact-finding Team 8 that he established earlier this month.
“In the first case I believe that court is the right forum to decide whether or not Chandra M. Hamzah and Bibit Samad Rianto are guilty, on condition that the investigation and prosecution processes are fair and objective, with strong evidence and strong public trust,” he said.
“However, as in the development [of the case] there is a growing public distrust of the police and the AGO… the better solution and option ... is that the police and the AGO do not bring the case to court.”
“Immediate efforts to correct and improve the three institutions [police, AGO and KPK] are necessary.”
Bibit and Chandra have been charged with bribery, extortion and abuse of power. Many believe the two have been framed, especially after a wiretapped recording on the alleged plot to frame them was played at the Constitutional Court.
Yudhoyono also failed to order sanctions against individuals, including top police and AGO officials allegedly involved in the framing, as also recommended by Team 8.
The President emphasized that he was not authorized to intervene the legal process and that the measures to address the problem should be in line with the Constitution and existing regulations.
On Sunday, Yudhoyono said he “did not want disharmony between the KPK, the police and the AGO to be permanent... A win-win solution should not be deemed as handing it over to the police and the AGO.”
Monday’s speech created confusion among Bibit, Chandra and their lawyers as well as the public.
“What does he mean? Maybe, we should wait for two or three days to see the clearer picture,” Chandra told the press.
His lawyer Alexander Lay said although he was also confused by the statement, one thing he could understand was that Yudhoyono wanted the police and the AGO not to bring the cases to the court.
Chandra declined to give the outcome of a meeting between the deputies and Yudhoyono on Monday.
“There was no demand that Chandra and Bibit resign [from the KPK],” lawyer Taufik Basari said.
Justice and Human Rights Minister Patrialis Akbar said the meeting was aimed at maintaining silaturrahim (good relationships).
Team 8 member Komaruddin Hidayat said he was confused by the President’s statement.
“It’s like a soccer player with a ball ready to be kicked for a goal. But he dribbles the ball instead of shooting,” he said.
Team 8 has recommended Yudhoyono a choice of three detailed legal mechanisms as to how to stop the cases, by the AGO or the police.
Later, junior attorney general Marwan Effendy said the AGO would prefer to deal with stopping the Chandra case, while the decision on the Bibit case rested with the police.
“But we have to wait to see what our prosecutors have to say,” he said.