Thu, 30 Mar 2000

Government submits 22 candidates for justices

JAKARTA (JP): The government submitted to the House of Representatives on Wednesday 22 names, including 10 people who are not serving as judges, to fill 19 vacancies in the Supreme Court, including the post of the chief justice.

The list includes Benjamin Mangkoedilaga, a highly respected former judge who currently serves on the National Commission on Human Rights. President Abdurrahman Wahid has publicly called for the appointment of Benjamin as chief justice.

Many judges have opposed Benjamin's nomination, saying that those serving on the Supreme Court must be recruited from career judges. The Supreme Court early this month submitted its own list of 24 nominations, all drawn from existing judges.

After submitting the list, Minister of Law and Legislation Yusril Ihza Mahendra said the law empowered the government to propose non-career judges for Supreme Court positions under "particular circumstances."

Citing the 1985 law on the Supreme Court, he said the only professional requirement for a justice is that he or she must have at least 15 years of experience in the legal profession.

"The law does not specify what constitutes `particular circumstances'," Yusril said after meeting with House Speaker Akbar Tandjung.

The law also has a clause stipulating that nominees for the Supreme Court must be career judges who have served a minimum of 10 years as a provincial judge, or five years as chief of a provincial court. This is the clause used by Supreme Court members when opposing Benjamin's nomination.

Besides the Supreme Court and the government, the Ministry of Religious Affairs has also submitted seven names to be considered for the Supreme Court positions.

The government's list includes Bagir Manan, a member of the newly established National Ombudsman Council.

Other non-career judges proposed are: law professors E. Saefullah Wiradipradja and Valerine JL Kriekhoff, law lecturers Abdul Mukhtie Fadjar, Artidjo Alkostar, Muhammad Laica Marzuki, Rifyal Ka'bah, Ronggur Hutagalung, and public notary Abdul Rahman Saleh.

The 12 career judges proposed are Moch. Ali Budiarto, Abdul Kadir Mappong, Ben Suhanda Syah, Chairani A. Wani, Eddy Djunaedi K., Edith Dumasi Tobing Nababan, Erna Sofwan Sjukrie, Maruarar Siahaan, Tamroekmi Chanijoen, Sakir Ardiwinata, Said Harahap and M.S. Lumme.

Former justice minister Muladi, who has been proposed by Akbar, is not in the list.

Akbar later said that he did not rule out the possibility of the House making its own nominations.

The House's next duty would be to examine the records of all the candidates proposed, and if approved, they might be invited to present their visions, he said.

A separate commission should be established to examine the wealth of the candidates, he said. (01/dja)