The Jakarta Post
A violent protest by the supporters of a plaintiff from Maluku erupted at the Constitutional Court (MK) on Thursday in an incident that shows the deterioration of the public's trust of the institution following its former chief justice being implicated in graft.
The aggressive, emotional outburst was the first in the court's history since its establishment in 2003.
Akil Mochtar, the court's former top man, has been detained by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) for allegedly accepting bribes amounting to billions of rupiahs in return for favorable verdicts.
At around 11:30 a.m. outside the court, supporters of a Maluku local election-dispute case expressed their disappointment over the court's decision.
The group proceeded to throw chairs, destroy three television monitors and shout slogans such as 'the MK is a thief'.
Some of them, allegedly supporters of the pair of Herman Adrian Koedoeboen-Daud Sangadji, later forced their way into the courtroom as justice Anwar Usman was reading the verdict. A microphone was propelled at justice Ahmad Fadlil Sumadi during the confusion.
The incident not only confirmed the public's waning confidence in the court, but also showed that the mistrust had been caused by the court itself, Erwin Natosmal of the Indonesian Legal Roundtable (ILR) said on Thursday.
'The justices are too confident despite Akil's shocking scandal,' Erwin added. 'They ignore the public's concerns, such as at the recent chief justice election when they rejected criticisms surrounding the election of individuals with a political background.'
The court ' which recently voted and installed new Chief Justice Hamdan Zoelva despite him being a former lawmaker from the Muslim-based Crescent Star Party (PBB) ' is now pushing to create its own
permanent ethics council.
This recent move comes on the back of the recent issuance of a Perppu (a regulation in lieu of law) by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to restore public trust following the recent accusations aimed at Akil.
The Perppu, which still has to undergo a review at the House of Representatives, mandates the Judicial Commission and the Constitutional Court to jointly create a permanent ethics council tasked with supervising the court. The Perppu also outlines a new mechanism to select justices and imposes stricter requirements on candidates to curb politicking.
The court has long been opposed to the idea of the Judicial Commission being handed back the power to oversee its justices.
The Perppu has its critics and supporters as it returns the Judicial Commission the power to oversee the court, a role that was scrapped in 2006.
The court, however, said the deteriorating public trust had nothing to do with the incident.
'It was merely about the people who were not ready to lose the local elections. Our ruling merely upheld the Maluku General Elections Commission's decision,' justice Patrialis Akbar said. 'Ever since [Akil's case] we have heard cases without disruption.'
'It was contempt of court and we must learn something from it,' deputy chief justice Arief Hidayat said when he opened the hearing. 'I want lawyers representing the plaintiff to maintain order and respect for the court.'
Patrialis Akbar, a former law and human rights minister, admitted the court's security personnel had been outnumbered by the angry protesters and the police could not enter the courtroom due to court's security protocol, which barred them from entering the courtroom during hearings.
Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Rikwanto concurred with Patrialis, saying the police had been guarding the building when the incident happened but they stayed outside.
Five suspects of the brawl inside the court room were arrested by the city police. The court would review its trial security procedures, Patrialis said. (nai)
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