Tue, 26 Sep 2000

Supreme Court justices pretrial motion begins

JAKARTA (JP): Lawyers representing two Supreme Court justices accused the government-appointed Joint Anti-Corruption Team (TGPK) on Monday of illegally investigating a bribery case.

They told the initial hearing of a pretrial motion filed by the justices against the team that the plaintiffs -- Supraptini Sutarto and Marnis Kahar -- both named suspects by the anticorruption team in a Rp 196 million (US$22,500) bribery case, had been illegally charged since the bribery investigation should have been carried out by the National Police Headquarters or the Attorney General's Office.

"This case is being investigated by an anticorruption team headed by Adi Andojo Sutjipto, a former justice. This is not correct," lawyer John Wellery told the hearing at the South Jakarta District Court, presided over by Judge Rusman Dani Achmad.

"Besides, the bribes were allegedly taken in 1998. The 1999 antigraft law cannot be used as the legal basis of an investigation carried out by the corruption team, since the law only came into effect on Aug. 16 last year."

John asked the court to declare the investigation illegal and put a halt to it.

The antigraft team, set up by Attorney General Marzuki Darusman and inducted by President Abdurrahman Wahid, is an embryo organization of the Commission to Eradicate Corruption, which was mandated by the 1999 antigraft law and must be established before August next year.

The team has made it a priority to eradicate corruption in the judicial system, including the Supreme Court and district courts.

It has the power to conduct investigations and to prosecute suspects. It also can seize evidence and tap telephone conversations.

In Monday's hearing, lawyers representing the team, headed by Tigor Pangaribuan, told the hearing that the lawsuit had no place in a district court because it violated existing regulations.

Tigor said that in a pretrial motion, the district court had the right to investigate and issue a verdict on a limited number of factors as stipulated in Article 77 of the Criminal Law Procedures.

The court, Tigor said, can only decide on factors like whether the arrest or detention of a person or his or her family is legal or not; whether stopping an investigation or demanding one is legal or not; and whether to grant material or punitive compensation in a case where the suspect is not brought to court.

"The charges filed by the plaintiff against our client cannot be brought to a district court, since Article 77 clearly states what a pretrial motion should be all about," Tigor said.

He added that it was the Attorney General's Office that had agreed to investigate the case.

The bribery case concerns 17,000 square meters of land in the West Java capital of Bandung. The plot is being disputed between two parties -- plaintiffs Aksan's heirs and defendant Sunata Sumali alias Sunanham.

A witness has testified that he paid Justice M. Yahya Harahap, one of the three suspects, 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, as the case was being first heard by the Supreme Court.

The case has experienced changing fortunes. At the first hearing, the panel of justices led by Harahap ruled in favor of the defendant. However, it went into a second hearing, with a different panel of justices, and the defendant lost.

Adi said the case was now under judicial review by the Supreme Court. (ylt)