The Constitutional Court (MK) ruled on Wednesday in favor of Gunung Mas Regent Hambit Bintih, who is currently being detained by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) for allegedly bribing the court's former chief justice, Akil Mochtar, to hand down a particular ruling.
The KPK has charged Hambit ' who was nominated by the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) ' with bribing Akil to fix the court's ruling on a petition challenging his victory in the Gunung Mas election.
The petition was filed by Jaya Samaja Monong, who lost his bid to Hambit, and the hearing was presided over by justices Akil, Maria Farida Indrati and Anwar Usman.
In his petition, Jaya, who is supported by several parties including the Democratic Party (PD), the Great Indonesia Movement Party (Gerindra) and the People's Conscience Party (Hanura), accused Hambit of rigging the election by manipulating the voters' list, with many minors in 12 districts being listed as voters.
The court, however, concluded that Hambit and the (Gunung Mas) General Elections Commission (KPUD) did not commit systematic violations during the election, and upheld his win.
Justice Maria said the bribery case against Hambit and Akil did not affect the court's ruling. 'We had no authority to judge the ongoing bribery investigation by the KPK,' the justice said when reading out the ruling on Wednesday.
'Our ruling does not intefere with the process of the corruption case,' she added.
Jaya slammed the ruling, saying it was strange given the fact that Akil was now a KPK suspect. 'It upset us. It is clear that there were massive and systemic violations. If not, why should the KPK arrest the chief justice?' he said after the hearing.
The court has decided to continue adjudicating election disputes despite suggestions it suspended hearings following the arrest of Akil, which has badly damaged the court's credibility.
Akil was now facing money-laundering charges as the KPK has obtained enough evidence that he laundered the bribe money he received during his tenure as justice, said a source within the KPK.
'Yes, the evidence is there. We just need to process the report in accordance with the law,' said a KPK official who declined to be named.
KPK commissioner Bambang Widjojanto, however, said the agency was now focusing on the bribery charges against Akil.
When asked whether the recently confiscated three cars from Akil's house were illicit assets, Bambang refused to answer.
The KPK's investigators confiscated three luxury cars, a Mercedes Benz S350, an Audi Quattro 5 and a Toyota Crown Athlete from Akil's private residence in Pancoran on Tuesday. Besides the cars, the KPK also seized bonds worth Rp 2 billion (US$174.000).
KPK spokesman Johan Budi said investigators found Akil had registered one of his cars, the Mercedes Benz, in the name of his driver, Daryono.
Daryono is believed to be in Akil's close circle and a key witness in the bribery case. He did not attend the court's ethics hearing on Monday and Tuesday night.
Akil's close relations with Daryono were revealed by one of Akil's adjutants, Sugianto, during the Tuesday ethics hearing. Sugianto said Daryono had known Akil since the latter 'was a West Kalimantan governor candidate' in 2007.