Govt considers shutting down corruption courts in regions
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The government is considering shutting down corruption courts at the provincial level after difficulties in finding judges with sufficient integrity who can stamp out rampant graft.
The arrest of two antigraft judges caught red-handed accepting bribes in Semarang, Central Java, has raised the idea of centralizing anticorruption courts to ensure objectivity.
According to Law and Human Rights Minister Amir Syamsuddin, a centralized anticorruption court would be easier to monitor, though it may extend processes of certain cases in the regions because of the country’s vast size.
“Anticorruption courts were set up in regions because of the size of our territory. Processes would be hindered if everything was handled in the capital. However, this incident serves as a wake-up call for all of us to evaluate all regional corruption courts, as well as the judges. I think it’s better to close regional corruption courts and launch a centralized court in Jakarta to allow a focused monitoring,” Amir said on Monday.
Separately, former constitutional court chief Jimly Asshiddiqie echoed the urgency for centralized antigraft courts, saying that such courts should be set up only in big cities to allow easier control, while at the same time improving the recruitment system.
“The report of the arrest of two anticorruption judges is a proof of a weak recruitment system for our judges, those who serve in anticorruption courts in particular. I hope we can establish a better procedure for judges nationwide,” Jimly said, adding that judges proven corrupt should be severely punished for tainting the profession.
Anticorruption judges, Kartini Juliana Magdalena Marpaung, an ad hoc judge with Semarang Corruption Court in Central Java, and Heru Kusbandono, who holds a similar position in Pontianak, West Kalimantan, challenged the public’s perception of their profession whenthey were caught by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) accepting bribes as the nation celebrated its 67th anniversary on Friday.
Investigators from the KPK and the Supreme Court caught the two judges accepting bribes of around Rp 150 million (US$15,806) from a go-between, Sri Dartuti, who allegedly sought the release of a high-ranking official, currently under investigation.
The three individuals are now detained at the KPK’s headquarters in South Jakarta. Kartini and Heru have been named suspects in relation to a case involving the car maintenance budget of Grobongan Legislative Council (DPRD Grobongan) in Central Java, which was being overseen by Kartini.
Kartini is also reported to have previously acquitted four graft defendants including Yanuelva Etliana, who stood trial for her role in a Rp 39 billion fraud at the Central Java Regional Development (BPD) Bank; Untung Wiyono, former regent of Sragen in Central Java, caught in a budget scandal worth Rp 11.2 billion; Suyatno, a graft suspect in a scandal worth Rp 13.5 billion; and Heru Djatmiko, a defendant in a Rp 5.9 billion graft case.
The impartiality and integrity of the Semarang Corruption Court has since been in question and the KPK asked Semarang to hand the trial of Semarang Mayor Soemarmo Hadi Saputro from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), over to Jakarta.
The move brought harsh criticism from lawmakers on House of Representatives’ Commission III overseeing law and human rights, accusing the KPK of exceding their authority for dubious reasons.
Soemarmo was later convicted and sentenced to 1.5 years in prison