Fri, 16 Jul 1999

Court rejects Bankers Trust's request for judge replacement

JAKARTA (JP): The head of the South Jakarta District Court has rejected a demand by the United Kingdom-based Bankers Trust International PLC that the judge presiding over its civil lawsuit case against PT Jakarta International Hotel & Development (JIHD) be replaced to ensure a fair trial.

"There is no legal reason to fulfill the defendant's request," head of the court, Soenarto, said in a decision dated July 8, disclosed on Thursday by Bankers Trust lawyers.

The defendant's lawyer, Ibrahim Senen of Dermawan and Co. law firm, said he was surprised by the court's one-page document decision. He said it did not address any of the defendant's arguments regarding replacement of the presiding judge.

"We are really upset and consider the decision quite unexpected," he said.

Ibrahim said the right to challenge a judge presiding over an ongoing case was clearly stipulated in Law No. 14/1970 regarding the power of the judiciary.

"The law was enacted to serve as an effective mechanism to control judges who act outside the law," he said, alleging that presiding judge J.M. Simatupang appeared to be biased in favor of the plaintiff.

The plaintiff's lawyer, Hotman Paris Hutapea, said the court's decision to reject the request was in accordance with the law.

Bankers Trust filed the request late last month on the grounds that presiding judge Simatupang violated civil procedural law and administered unfair treatment during the court hearings.

The defendant filed the same request in relation to its civil litigation suit against PT Mayora Indah.

Judge Simatupang is presiding over both cases.

Mayora and JIHD, both listed on the Jakarta Stock Exchange, filed lawsuits at the South Jakarta District Court against Bankers Trust last year. Lawyers acting on behalf of the plaintiffs claimed the bank had concluded high risk banking transactions (derivative contracts) for the firms without prior financial advice.

The plaintiffs claimed the transactions had led to great financial losses.

The derivative contract between Mayora and Bankers Trust, which was signed in 1997 and falls due in 2004, requires Mayora to exchange US$50 million in rupiah at an agreed rate with Bankers Trust.

The contract with JIHD, signed in 1995, bears different maturity dates, ranging from 2002 to 2005, with a net delivery value of $88 million.(udi)