Thu, 19 Jun 2003

18 justices sworn in amid criticism

JAKARTA: Supreme Court chief Bagir Manan swore in 18 justices on Wednesday amid public criticism at the credibility of some of them.

Bagir raised the issue by asking the newly installed justices to "prove to the public that they have both capability and integrity."

"If you have done wrong in the past, I want you to prove that you will not repeat the same mistakes, and give your best to justice seekers," he said.

Bagir demanded the justices accelerate judicial reform in the courts, which are well-known for their corrupt officials.

Some non-governmental organizations have criticized President Megawati Soekarnoputri's move to approve all 18 candidates, who underwent tests of their suitability by the House of Representatives.

They said that only eight of the candidates had the capability and integrity necessary to join the judiciary. Some were former academics, career judges, lawyers, prosecutors and military officials.

Among the newly installed justices was Maj. Gen. Timor Manurung, who led the legal defense team for military officials implicated in the 1999 bloodshed in East Timor. -- JP