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Nov '00

Money Talks

A Supreme Court justice who was on duty is involved in a ‘palm greasing’ case. But solidarity between his fellow judges makes it harder for the case to be investigated.

ONCE again, the country has been rocked with under-the-table dealings at the Supreme Court. The deteriorating condition of Indonesia’s highest judicial institution will be the hardest task the new Supreme Court justices will have to tackle, including Muladi and Benjamin Mangkoedilaga, and even for the soon-to-be-elected chairman of the Supreme Court (MA). Just recently, a bribery case involving the director of the State Administrative Office (TUN), Zainal Agus, at the MA has been brought to our attention. Sadly, this happened when an investigation has yet to be launched by the Joint Team for the Eradication of Corruption (TGPK) into the case of the three judges who were allegedly bought off.

Similar to the aforementioned case of the three judges—namely M. Yahya Harahap, Supraptini Sutarto and Marnis Kahar—Zainal’s situation was uncovered by TGPK, chaired by retired Supreme Court justice Adi Andojo. Last Wednesday morning, eight public prosecutors from TGPK forcefully apprehended Zainal at his residence in the Ragunan area of South Jakarta. Zainal, who has been a judge for 29 years, underwent intense examination, even though he was not detained.

However, as with all the other graft cases that are sadly lacking in witnesses and evidence, Zainal not surprisingly denied all the charges that were brought against him. Nonetheless, TGPK is optimistically continuing to process Zainal’s case. “Based on the recounting of the witness and pending further investigation, TGPK will take this case to the next process where examination will be conducted and the person concerned will be declared a suspect,” said TGPK secretary M.H. Silaban.

The case that became the stumbling rock for Zainal stemmed from a simple case of inheritance in Jakarta. As the story goes, there were two groups of people who stood to inherit a number of houses and companies formerly owned by the deceased party. When the case reached the MA during the appeal process, the award was granted in favor of one of the disputing groups of heirs. This was, apparently, because the other lot was suspected of having falsified their birth certificates.

No one was shocked to learn that this other group turned out to be sore losers. This is because the second group somehow came into possession of the certificate of a plot of land. Immediately, the first group filed their lawsuit at the State Administrative Court. They demanded that the National Land Agency cancel the land certificate. However, their efforts turned out to be in vain, even when the case was appealed to the Supreme Court.

As a result, the first group launched an appeal for a judicial review (PK). It was exactly during this time, in December 1999, that a woman from the first group–the name of this woman, who lives in Menteng, Central Jakarta, is still being withheld by TGPK—contacted Zainal Agus. At the MA, Zainal is a well-known and much sought-after director and substitute registrar. People who are involved in ongoing cases or their legal representatives have to stand in line in order to deal with Zainal.

It was from Zainal that the woman requested assistance to ensure everything went well with the PK. In return for his cooperation, the woman offered him Rp100 million plus a gold Mont Blanc pen. But believe it or not, there are sources that say the ‘sweetener’ reached the staggering figure of Rp 1 billion.

When the time came, Zainal couldn’t deliver and make good on his promise. The eagerly anticipated PK ruling turned out to be a flop. The judges still ruled in favor of the second group. Embittered and feeling cheated, the woman reported the case to TGPK, in October 2000.

However, it was not easy to question Zainal. Even though he has been summoned twice, he failed to attend. The MA, saying that Zainal was in Makassar, rejected the first summons. The court also discarded the second summons, citing reasons that Zainal’s status as a suspect was still unclear. And to top it all off, pursuant to the pre-hearing ruling issued by the South Jakarta District Court, TGPK has no authority to conduct investigations into alleged bribery cases involving judges.

It is because of those reasons TGPK had to forcefully apprehend Zainal at his home. A fierce argument erupted between TGPK and Zainal, who was accompanied by several of his colleagues from the MA, such as Djoko Sarwoko and Harifin Tumpa. According to Djoko, who is also the director of criminal cases at the MA, TGPK cannot just examine someone out of the blue, let alone apprehend a judge. Any action taken against Zainal, who is a judge at the State Administrative Court, can only be carried out after approval from the chairman of the MA and the minister of justice has been obtained.

As for the bribery charges, Djoko admitted he met Zainal face to face, and his colleague denied ever having been involved in any shady dealings, either with the witness or the counter party. Whether the confession is true or not, it is unfortunate that Zainal could not be reached at his home.

Even so, Djoko is doubtful that the bribery charges reached as much as Rp1 billion. In Djoko’s opinion, the TUN case is not considered an extraordinary case that warrants such a high ‘price’. Moreover, pulling strings to ensure victory in a PK is not something that can easily be done. “If Zainal did promise such a victory, then he is a certified fool,” scoffed Djoko.

Sumber : (Wicaksono, Rommy Fibri and Arif A. Kuswardono/RA) Majalah Tempo, Edisi. 09/I/06 - 12 November 2000

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