The Jakarta Post
The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) rejected on Monday all arguments against the prosecution of National Police chief nominee Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan, whom the antigraft body recently named a suspect in a graft case.
In the first session of a pretrial hearing to challenge Budi's suspect status, his lawyers claimed the antigraft body had abused its power by naming the three-star police general a suspect without questioning him and presenting witnesses.
The lawyers also alleged that the KPK had breached its collective decision-making mechanism in which all five KPK commissioners are required to approve a decision to name a person a suspect.
They also said that the KPK had acted unethically for announcing an investigation into Budi just days after President Joko 'Jokowi' Widodo nominated him for the chief post.
One of Budi's lawyers, Maqdir Ismail, said the KPK was wrongly prosecuting Budi in the case as his status at that time was not a 'law enforcer' because his position as the head of the Career Development Bureau at the National Police from 2004 to 2006, when his alleged crime took place, did not grant him any investigative authority.
Magdir cited Article 11 of the 2002 KPK Law, which said the KPK was granted authority to prosecute 'law-enforcement officers' and 'state officials' in graft investigations, adding that the two statuses could be applied to his client.
'Someone in that post also cannot be considered as a public official as Article 2 of the 1999 Clean Governance Law says that only the heads of state institutions, ministers, governors and judges can be considered public officials,' Magdir said in court.
KPK lawyer Chatarina M. Girsang said Magdir had constructed his arguments by ignoring the fact that Budi's status as a police officer automatically made him a law-enforcement officer and a public official who received his salary from tax payers' money.
'[Budi] is qualified as a state official and a law enforcer. The Jakarta Corruption Court will later confirm whether he is the subject of the KPK's investigation or not. Such a discussion is not the subject of this hearing,' Chatarina added.
Chatarina also said that Budi's lawyers had twisted the meaning of the collective decision-making system by stating that the decision to name Budi a suspect was 'illegitimate' because it was taken by only four out of five KPK commissioners.
The KPK is led by four commissioners after commissioner Busyro Muqoddas wrapped up his tenure in December.
'Article 21 of the KPK Law says the collective system is about how a decision is made, via a collective process by KPK leaders, without specifying the minimum number of KPK leaders required when making a decision. The petitioner also fails to understand that the Constitutional Court ruling in November 2013 does not specify that a collective decision must be made by all five KPK leaders,' Chatarina said.
The KPK team also said that Article 6 of Law No. 30/2002 did not regulate a particular period of when someone should be declared a suspect, as long as KPK investigators could find two pieces of strong evidence for their investigation.
In addition, the team said the antigraft body had not interfered with the President's prerogative by announcing Budi a graft suspect prior to his expected inauguration on Jan. 13, as accused by Budi's lawyers.
'Also, it is not mandatory for the KPK to summon someone before declaring him or her a suspect, because the KUHAP [Criminal Law Procedures Code] grants him or her the right to deny any allegations,' said another KPK team member, Rasamala Aritonang.
The trial, which was presided over and observed by one judge, Sarpin Rizaldi, will run until Friday, when he will make his final ruling on whether to approve Budi's pretrial petition or not.
On Tuesday and Wednesday, Budi's team of lawyers will present witnesses to prove their arguments, while the KPK will do the same on Thursday and Friday.