Law and Human Rights Minister Amir Syamsudin downplayed on Wednesday the recent arrest of a judge by the National Narcotics Agency (BNN) for having a “drug party” at a Jakarta night club.
“The judge is just like other ordinary people. We can understand that the judiciary institution also has some officials using drugs. We need a culprit sometimes,” Amir, a former lawyer, told the press after attending a Cabinet meeting at the Presidential Office.
Amir’s statement came amid criticisms of a recent revelation that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono had granted sentence reductions to 19 drug convicts since 2006. Critics said Yudhoyono had been inconsistent because he had made a public statement in 2006 that he would not grant clemency to drug convicts.
Last week, the Supreme Court revealed that the President had granted clemency to drug convict Deni Setia Maharwan. His sentence was commuted to life in prison.
Amir refused to comment when asked how such a high judiciary body like the Supreme Court could have on its payroll a drug-using judge.
“Don’t speculate too much. Leave it to the police who will probe the case thoroughly. The arrested judge should not be treated differently in the legal process,” he said.
The BNN agents caught Puji Wiryanto, a judge from the Bekasi District Court, while he was allegedly taking drugs in a karaoke room at the Illigals Hotel and Club in West Jakarta on Tuesday evening.
The BNN’s eradication division deputy chief, Insp. Gen. Benny Jozua Mamoto, said BNN officers apprehended the judge and two other guests, Siddiq Pramono and Musli Musa’ad, while they were singing with four female escorts.
“One of the two guests is a lawyer,” Benny said without revealing if the lawyer handled cases under Puji’s watch.
The officers confiscated a number of ecstasy pills and crystal methamphetamine from the judge and his friends as evidence.
Benny said the BNN officers had Puji under surveillance program for some time.
Supreme Court spokesman Djoko Sarwoko said Puji, who had been transferred several times in his career due to personal problems, would be dismissed if he was found guilty in this case.
BNN spokesman Sr. Comr. Sumirat Dwiyanto said Puji had regularly consumed crystal methamphetamine and ecstasy since he served at the Jayapura District Court in Jayapura, Papua, in 2010.
“We have found early indications of involvement of other judges in the case,” Sumirat said.
The arrest of the judge is the latest disgrace to the Supreme Court after being hit by the arrests of several judges by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) for taking bribes.
On Aug. 17, the KPK arrested two judges at the ad-hoc corruption court in Semarang, Central Java, for allegedly accepting bribes.
KPK investigators also confiscated cash amounting to more than p 100 million (US$10,500).
Previously, the antigraft body arrested numerous judges in its operations, including Syarifuddin, a supervisory judge with the Central Jakarta District Court, and Imas Dianasari, an Industrial Relations Court judge with the Bandung District Court.
Meanwhile, the Bandung High Court has issued a decision to suspend Puji from his post.
His permanent dismissal however will wait for an approval from the President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.