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Jakarta Post

Supreme Court under fire for lavish trip to Wakatobi

  • Ina Parlina

    The Jakarta Post

Jakarta   /   Fri, May 23, 2014   /  08:51 am

The Supreme Court has come under fire for renting a private jet to fly dozens of judges on a retreat to the popular Wakatobi diving destination in Southeast Sulawesi.

More than 180 judges, including 65 justices and officials from the court, went on the retreat in the Patuno resort area between May 2 and 5.

All justices at the court except for Artidjo Alkotsar went on the retreat, which was headed by Chief Justice Hatta Ali.

Participants were housed in six hotels in the area at the expense of the court.

Wakatobi is popular among divers from all over the globe. Marine expert Jacques Cousteau once described Wakatobi as the finest diving site in the world.

Wakatobi has at least 100 diamond-class dive sites. Situated between the Banda and Flores seas, the island group has the most beautiful coral ridges in the coral triangle. The coral ridges found in Kaledupa are the longest in the world, extending 48 kilometers.

Judicial watchdog groups have lambasted the court for such lavish spending.

'€œThis is unethical,'€ Erwin Natosmal of the Indonesian Legal Roundtable (ILR) said.

Erwin said the lavish trip showed that there was mismanagement within the institution.

'€œThis is the result of poor budgeting at the court that resulted in wasteful spending,'€ he said.

Earlier, former chief justice Harifin Tumpa blasted the trip, saying it was indecent for judges to spend so much on a trip.

'€œIt was too much. Chartering a private jet is deplorable,'€ Hatta said.

Earlier, the court issued an official statement saying that the money spent on renting the private jet had been withdrawn from a fund earmarked for travel expenses of the chief justice.

The court secretary-general also earlier said that it had been decided to rent a private jet as there were no direct flights between Jakarta and Wakatobi.

On Tuesday, court spokesman Ridwan Mansyur issued a statement saying that no regulation had been breached in organizing the trip as the money spent came from the court'€™s operational funds.

'€œWe took a couple of million rupiah from chief justice'€™s travel expenses and a smaller amount from those of his deputies,'€ he said.

He said it had proven more efficient to rent a private jet. '€œAll justices are very busy, but there'€™s no direct flight to the destination,'€ he said.

The court, which has been deemed one of the most corrupt institutions in the country, has been in the spotlight over graft allegations and the lavish lifestyles of its judges and officials.

In March, court secretary Nurhadi made headlines after holding a lavish wedding reception for his daughter.

Party favors at the wedding were iPods, which were handed out to hundreds of guests.

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) urged the guests, most of whom were judges, to return the gifts as they could be considered bribes.

According to the antigraft body, the price of a single iPod is Rp 699,000 (US$60.62), above the maximum Rp 500,000 limit for the value of gifts that justices are allowed to accept.

Nurhadi, who was once spokesman for the court, also made headlines in 2012 after media reports revealed that he had spent Rp 1 billion on renovating his office in the court complex.