Sat, 26 Feb 2000

Repairs recommended for old court building

JAKARTA (JP): The city administration will not prosecute the finance ministry, the owner of the former Supreme Court building on Jl. Lapangan Banteng Timur in Central Jakarta, for its failure to prevent damage to the rear of the protected building, an official said on Friday.

Head of the city's restoration council Wisnu Murti Ardjo said the team had recommended a "win-win solution" to settle the problem.

"We require the owner of the building to repair the damaged parts.

"We should compromise because it would be impossible to instruct the Ministry of Finance to halt the work as the new construction has been erected," he told The Jakarta Post.

He said the decision not to prosecute to settle the problem was made in a meeting between finance ministry officials and the city restoration council at the Nyi Ageng Serang building on Jl. H.R. Rasuna Said in South Jakarta on Wednesday.

Wisnu reluctantly confirmed that the punishment for demolishing an old and protected building like the former Supreme Court was a maximum of 10 years imprisonment or a Rp 100 million (US$14,285) fine. The sentence is stipulated in Law No. 5/1992 on Heritage.

"Implementing the law is the most ideal thing to do, but what is important is that the owner repairs the damaged parts. I think it is much better that the case is solved out of court," he said, refusing to elaborate further.

The team's decision was contrary to a previous statement by Central Jakarta Mayor Andi Subur Abdullah that he would take legal action against the ministry.

The construction of the finance ministry's four-story budget directorate general building damaged the rear of the former Supreme Court, which was built in 1848 (not 1828 as previously reported).

The case attracted media attention, which increased after it was found that the new construction lacked a building permit.

Regarding the ministry's failure to obtain a building construction permit (IMB), Wisnu said the team had recommended that the planner, the developer and the owner be punished according to the existing regulations.

Contacted separately, old building expert Grace Pamungkas said she was concerned about the team's decision to go through an out- of-court settlement.

"It's ironic. They should, actually, enforce the existing laws.

"It is another example that there has been no improvement in handling cases concerning the destruction of old buildings in the capital," she said.

She said it was a good moment for all related institutions to uphold the law, as the wrongdoing in this case was obvious, and regretted that by compromising in this way the city administration remained "singing the same old song". (ind)