Antigraft activists decried the lenient jail sentence given to Democratic Party lawmaker Angelina Sondakh, saying the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) needs to strengthen cases against defendants and ensure those convicted of graft get the maximum jail sentence.
The activists lamented the failure of the KPK prosecutors to pursuade the judges to hand down a severe punishment to Angelina.
The KPK prosecutors previously indicted Angelina with three alternative charges, two of which were bribery charges that carry a maximum sentence of five years each and another charge with a 20-year
maximum prison term.
The prosecutors deemed Angelina guilty of receiving Rp 12.58 billion (US$1.3 million) and $ 2.35 million in kickbacks from the Permai Group, a holding company belonging to former Democratic Party treasurer M. Nazaruddin, which won the tender to build the Jakabaring Athletes’ Village in Palembang, South Sumatra.
The prosecutors had also demanded that Angelina return all the money she had received from Permai Group to the state
Using Article 12 and 18 of the Corruption Law, prosecutors sought a 12-year sentence for the former beauty queen. However, on Thursday Angelina received a lenient prison sentence of only four years and six months as the Jakarta Corruption Court concluded that Angelina had violated Article 11 of the 1999 Corruption Law, which carries a maximum five years prison sentence.
The court also turned down demands by the prosecutors to order Angelina to return her ill gotten gains to the state, saying that as the bribes of Rp 2.5 billion and $1.2 million came from a private company they were not state money.
As prosecutors failed to present a strong case, the judges argued that they could not determine how much money Angelina actually enjoyed.
The judges also concluded that budget allocation was a collective authority of the budget committee and was not Angelina’s exclusive authority.
Anticorruption observer Jamil Mubarok of the Indonesia Transparency Society (MTI) said that strong investigations would not work without strong cases.
“The KPK must improve the way they build the case. They must learn how to construct a good indictment and how to present the case before the court,” he told The Jakarta Post on Friday.
Legal observer Hendra Setiawan condemned the KPK for not using the Money Laundering Law against Angelina in the first place.
“It’s not all the judges’ fault. The KPK’s case did not seem prepared. If they were confident with the case, why didn’t they just charge Angelina with money laundering?” he told the Post.
The KPK refused to be blamed for its own defeat and responded by slamming the judges.
“The lenient verdict, which had no proper legal standing, indicates that the judges have failed to put weight on the fact that Angelina was a lawmaker who was supposed to represent the public. Instead, she stole from the public,” KPK deputy chief Busyro Muqoddas said.
Anticorruption activist Emerson Yuntho of the Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) agreed with Busyro, saying that corruption court judges “have the tendency to seek lighter sentences”.
Judicial Commission spokesman Asep Rahmat Fajar said his office monitored Angelina’s trial since it started in early September 2012.
“We are still reviewing it,” he added.
Asep said the Judicial Commission would follow up should there be a report about the trial, “that will also include if KPK files a report regarding the trial to us.”