Fri, 03 Nov 2000

Senior Supreme Court official questioned over bribery case

JAKARTA (JP): A senior Supreme Court official was questioned on Wednesday by investigators from the government-appointed Joint Team to Eradicate Corruption (TGPK) as a suspect in a bribery case.

Supreme Court secretary-general Pranowo and Supreme Court director for criminal cases, Djoko Sarwoko, said on Thursday that the Supreme Court Director for Administrative Cases, Zainal Agus, had been questioned by prosecutors over the matter.

"He was not detained. Don't call this an arrest... He was forcibly escorted to the Attorney General's Office because he had been summoned twice over the matter but failed to show up," Djoko told reporters at the Supreme Court on Wednesday.

The TGPK investigators assumed that Zainal Agus, a High Court judge on loan to the Supreme Court as director for state administrative cases, purposely did not show up for questioning.

The case, Djoko said, revolved around a state administrative case tried at the Supreme Court.

"Zainal, according to the TGPK, is suspected of having received a cash bribe from one party to the administrative case to allow him to win. That's all I know," Djoko said.

Pranowo said that Supreme Court Deputy Chief Justice, I Ketut Suraputra, presided over the hearing of the case.

"The other members of the bench were Supreme Court justices Suharto and Iskandar Kamil," Pranowo said.

He added that since Zainal was a High Court judge, the Attorney General's Office must obtain a permit from the Minister of Justice and the Supreme Court Chief Justice to question, detain, or arrest him, as stipulated in Article 26 of Law No. 2/1986.

"Since the Supreme Court Chief Justice has not been appointed as yet, there is no permit. Thus, the questioning can't go on, for now," Pranowo told reporters.

Despite having accompanied Zainal during Wednesday's questioning, Djoko Sarwoko totally denied knowing anything about the case, except that TGPK investigators had received a report on Zainal, who allegedly took money over a state administrative case.

"Whether the party involved bribed his way to win the case via Zainal is unclear," Djoko said.

"A director has no right to issue a ruling on a case. Only the panel of judges hearing the case has that right," he added.

Meanwhile, TGPK public relations officer, M. H. Silaban, told The Jakarta Post that a person had recently come to the TGPK to lodge a complaint against Zainal.

"The person admitted to us, and filed a report, that an amount, less than Rp 100 million, was paid to this Supreme Court official (Zainal), so that this person who filed the report with us could win the 1999 case. That's all I can say," Silaban said, failing to elaborate further.

Similar case

Earlier on Sept. 29, the South Jakarta District Court accepted a lawsuit brought by two Supreme Court justices against the TGPK for conducting an illegal investigation into them over a bribery case.

The plaintiffs' lawyers told the hearing that their clients, Supraptini Sutarto and Marnis Kahar -- both named suspects by the TGPK in a Rp 196 million (US$22,500) bribery case -- had been illegally investigated as the investigation should have been be conducted by National Police Headquarters or the Attorney General's Office.

Having accepted the lawsuit, the district court ruled the investigation to be illegal, an obvious setback to a move that could have paved the way for the first ever trial in Indonesia of top judges on corruption charges.

The case, which also involved M. Yahya Harahap, who has now retired from the Supreme Court, concerned 17,000 square meters of land in the West Java capital of Bandung which was disputed by two parties -- namely the heirs to a certain Aksan as plaintiffs and Sunata Sumali alias Sunanham as defendant.

A witness testified that he paid Justice Harahap Rp 96 million in cash delivered to his residence, and Rp 50 million each to Supraptini and Marnis, delivered to their offices, in November 1998, when the case was first heard by the Supreme Court. (ylt)