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Jakarta Post

Constitutional Court justices '€˜still lack public trust'€™

  • Ina Parlina

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Sat, November 16, 2013   /  07:30 am

An Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) lawmaker has called for the resignation of Constitutional Court justices as they have failed to restore public trust in the court after its former chief was charged with corruption.

PDI-P politician Eva Kusuma Sundari made the call on Friday after the court'€™s ruling in the Maluku election dispute on Thursday triggered a violent protest inside the courtroom, forcing the justices to flee.

'€œThe court'€™s lack of legitimacy encouraged the public to behave in what can only be regarded as contempt of court,'€ she said as quoted by tribunnews.com.

She said that those involved in the riot should be punished, but the court should do more to restore its legitimacy. '€œNew justices should be elected: Those who do not share the sin of Akil Mochtar for endorsing his unaccountable rulings.'€

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has accused Akil of taking bribes from a number of local politicians in return for favorable rulings. Several observers have called for a review of the court'€™s rulings issued under Akil'€™s leadership, but the remaining eight justices have rejected the proposal.

Court justice Harjono admitted that the Akil scandal had seriously damaged the court'€™s credibility, but the court'€™s critics were making it worse by suggesting that other justices were implicated in Akil'€™s cases.

'€œThere is a public feeling that if one justice is corrupt, the others are corrupt too,'€ he said.

The court is calling on all parties to help restore the dignity of the judicial institution following Thursday'€™s incident, the first since the court'€™s establishment in 2003.

Newly elected Chief Justice Hamdan Zoelva said on Friday that new measures would be imposed next week to prevent such incidents from recurring. The new procedures will limit the number of visitors entering the court and increase security in the visitor area in front of the plenary courtroom.

Under the new measure, people will no longer be allowed in and out of the courtroom during hearings and everyone must produce ID before entering the court building.

'€œI apologize for these limitations. This is to maintain order in the court. Everyone must respect our sessions,'€ he said.

Hamdan accepted that people were still reluctant to trust the court. He said he would conduct an evaluation, highlighting the seriousness of Thursday'€™s incident. '€œWhat happened yesterday was not only an affront to the court'€™s dignity, but also that of the state,'€ he said.

As of Friday afternoon, the Jakarta Police had named two suspects and questioned more than a dozen others for their involvement in the incident.

Activists have called for harsh punishments to be meted out to the perpetrators.

'€œWhat the court visitors did can not be tolerated. We call for the police to prosecute the perpetrators. All people should battle to restore public trust in the court because it is not merely the responsibility of the Constitutional Court,'€ said Setara Institute chairman Hendardi. '€œThe incident reflects the immaturity of some Indonesians in upholding democracy,'€ he added. (nai/hrl)

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