Mon, 31 Oct 1994

New appointment hopes to improve judicial system

JAKARTA (JP): Legal experts and practitioners welcome President Soeharto's appointment of Soerjono as the new chief justice, hoping that he will be able to improve the image of the legal system.

Soerjono, a career judge, was appointed the new chief justice on Friday to replace Purwoto Suhadi Gandasubrata, who will retire tomorrow.

Prominent legal experts Soetandyo Wignjosoebroto, Todung Mulya Lubis, and Adnan Buyung Nasution, all agreed on Saturday with President Soeharto's view that the new chief justice should be a career judge.

"A career judge has deep knowledge of the judicial system in terms of theory, as well as practice," Soetandyo, a member of the National Commission on Human Rights, said.

Soetandyo said that although ensuring fair trials is a very difficult job, Soerjono should try to do so.

"I believe that it will be difficult for Soerjono, especially when the public interests have to face those of a few but powerful people," he said.

A similar view was aired by Buyung Nasution, a well known lawyer and human rights campaigner.

"An experienced career judge is more capable of pursuing fair and equal justice," he said when addressing a gathering for the 24th anniversary of the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), on Friday.

He said that Soerjono will have to work harder than ever in the coming two-year period of leadership because many problems remain unresolved, he said.

Underlining Nasution's opinion, Mulya Lubis, a human rights activist, said: "A chief justice, as the supreme authority in the judicial system, is expected to be courageous and assertive."

He said the new chief justice must be able to ensure fairness in every court decision, from the lowest court up to the Supreme Court.


He said Soerjono must have the courage to correct the present flaws in the judicial system, such as taking punitive measures against corrupt judges and those who abuse their power.

Soerjono, 63, hails from Solo, Central Java. He graduated from the University of Indonesia's school of law in 1956 and took advanced courses on human rights in 1971 and on administrative law in 1990.

He began his career as a state prosecutor and later worked as a judge. He was a prosecutor at the Jakarta High Prosecutor's Office for two years before he became a judge in 1959.

Soerjono was head of several high prosecutor's offices in Medan, Palembang, Denpasar and Jakarta, before he was appointed a senior judge in 1982 and then as deputy chief justice in 1992.

The new chief justice, who defeated his only rival, M. Djaelani, refused comment when reporters asked him about his plans.

"Please wait until the president swears me in," he said, adding that he had not yet received the Presidential Decree for the new post.

"All I can say is thank God," he said. (imn)