The Jakarta Post
The capture of former Supreme Court secretary Nurhadi earlier this month should give the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) a sense of relief. This is not only because the once powerful figure within the country’s highest court had been on the run for four months but also because the antigraft body was desperately seeking an achievement to regain public trust.
The KPK indeed deserves praise for arresting Nurhadi, who fled justice after the commission named him a suspect for allegedly accepting bribes from businessman Hiendra Soenyoto in connection with three cases the Supreme Court had heard between 2011 and 2016. Besides Nurhadi, the KPK wanted list includes Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) cadre Harun Masiku, who remains at large.
Arresting Nurhadi was by no means an easy job; he had a vast network. The KPK investigators, led by Novel Baswedan, reportedly searched for him at 12 different places on the island of Java, including his houses in South Jakarta and Bogor, West Java, and the homes of his family members in Surabaya and Tulungagung, East Java. They eventually captured Nurhadi and his son-in-law in Simprug, South Jakarta.
Now that Nurhadi is in custody, the KPK can pick some low-hanging fruit; it can unveil the whole truth behind the bribery case, which revolved around a legal dispute involving Hiendra’s firm, and can dig into the alleged corruption in the judiciary.
Former KPK deputy chief Bambang Widjojanto has dubbed Nurhadi the “dark prince” of injustice given his power and control over all “transactions” within the court during his tenure. This is why Bambang hopes the bribery case involving Nurhadi will put the KPK on the scent of further corruption in the country’s justice system and allow it to catch even bigger prey.
Despite improvements in its commitment to transparency, the Supreme Court has never been immune to allegations of backroom deals to buy decisions. One of the most glaring examples is the dishonorable discharge of Justice Achmad Yamanie in 2012 for conspiring with the Supreme Court’s registrar to cut a drug dealer’s life sentence down to 12 years. However, no criminal investigation into the case’s alleged falsifications has ever been launched.
In fact, Nurhadi is the most prominent Supreme Court figure to face prosecution for alleged corruption. Before Nurhadi was declared a graft suspect, there were several attempts to reveal corruption involving Supreme Court justices, but they all ended with the whistleblowers being convicted of defamation.
Thanks to the KPK, a number of judges from district and high courts have faced justice for accepting bribes. This shows that the Supreme Court’s internal supervision mechanism, established 20 years ago in a set of judiciary reforms, has not worked as intended.
The KPK must now present incriminating evidence to the Corruption Court for it to find Nurhadi guilty of accepting bribes. But the antigraft body must not stop at this case, which is, perhaps, only the tip of the country’s judicial corruption iceberg.
The KPK must seize this golden moment to win back the nation’s trust.