National

Provincial graft judge
sacked over ‘dinner with
friends’

Judge Asmadinata became the first ad hoc corruption judge to be sacked by an ethics panel after he was found guilty of a breach of ethics for meeting with another judge to discuss a defendant in a corruption case he was handling.

The panel of four judicial commissioners and three Supreme Court justices, found Asmadinata guilty of actively “mishandling the case” of Grobogan legislative council speaker M. Yaeni.

Disgraced Semarang Corruption Court ad hoc judge Kartini Marpaung and Pontianak Corruption Court ad hoc judge Heru Kisbandono are in jail for accepting bribes to acquit Yaeni of corruption charges.

Asmadinata was proven to have met Heru and Kartini twice for dinner in a restaurant in Semarang and in a hotel in Surakarta months before Kartini was caught red-handed by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) in August 2012.

The 53-year-old judge told the panel that he refused to help Heru and Kartini to acquit Yaeni, claiming that Kartini, his junior in the court, introduced him to Heru.

Wednesday’s hearing revealed that during the first meeting on Yaeni’s case, Asmadinata told judges that he would acquit Yaeni for academic reasons. After Kartini was busted by KPK, he reportedly changed his mind.

Asmadinata was in Kuala Lumpur at that time of Kartini’s arrest.

Yaeni was finally convicted and sentenced to 4 years in prison in March.

The ethics panel questioned his opinion on Yaeni’s case, saying that as a judge, Asmadinata could not simply change his mind later without good reason.

Asmadinata denied ever making such a statement, arguing that he did not know Heru would come to the second meeting but decided to join the dinner as he respected Heru as a colleague.

The seven panel members dismissed his claims. “As a lecturer, do you understand corruption lurking in Indonesia?” Supreme Court Justice Yulius said. “Do you know why there are ad hoc corruption judges?”

“We need various disciplines of knowledge to help eradicate corruption,” Asmadinata said.

“Let me fresh your memory, in one of your lecture [you said] public trust in law enforcers, as well as judges, is diminishing […] That’s why we need ad hoc corruption judges,” Yulius said.

In late 2011, many questioned the integrity of graft defendant-turned-ad hoc corruption judge Ramlan Comel who acquitted Mochtar, a Bekasi mayor.

The mayor became the first to win in court against the KPK, which has a 100 percent success rate in the Jakarta court.

It was the first blow for local graft tribunals after the 2009 Corruption Court Law, which gave the Supreme Court two years to establish local corruption tribunals to try corruption cases, whether they originate from the KPK or the Attorney General’s Office.

The House of Representatives enacted the law as mandated by a 2006 Constitutional Court ruling that declared the then sole Corruption Court in Jakarta unconstitutional because of a double standard in the way corruption cases were handled.

Following Mochtar’s case, a number of defendants have been acquitted by local corruption courts.

Judicial Commission Chairman Suparman Marzuki said after the hearing that his office would support the KPK should they want to follow up the Asmadinata case.

“The ethics panel has found indications that Yaeni’s case was not freely pursued,” he said.

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