There is strong evidence that some legislators from the DPR Law Commission are interfering in the relocation of the corruption trial of the Semarang Mayor and the Central Java Council Speaker.
A phone text message was read by Judge Ifa Sudewi during a break in a trial hearing, two weeks ago. She had had just begun presiding over a bribery trial involving the 2012 Semarang city budget. The sender of the text was Semarang Police Chief Sr. Comr. Elan Subilan. "Mbak, [you are invited to a meeting] by the Central Java police chief this evening," read the message, as shown by Ifa to Tempo.
Once the hearing of the trial, where Semarang City councilor Agung Purno Sardjono sat as defendant, was over that day, Ifa called Elan. To Ifa, Elan said she had been invited by Central Java Police Chief Insp. Gen. Didiek Sutomo Triwidodo for a meeting, and that there would be guests from the House of Representatives (DPR) Commission III on legal issues. Ifa inquired if the Semarang District Court chairman was also invited. "It's only for Ibu Ifa," said Ifa, quoting Elan's reply. Ifa is deputy chief justice of the court.
That afternoon, the Central Java Police Chief's invitation lay on Ifa's table. The invitation said there would be a working visit by the DPR Commission III to Semarang that Thursday evening. The agenda was to follow up on the Commission's working session in handling corruption cases in Central Java.
After dusk, Ifa headed for the auditorium of the Central Java Police headquarters. There, several officials of the Central Java regional office were also present. Not long after that, more guests arrived. There were nine members of the Law Commission and some DPR staffers. The meeting started with dinner.
During dinner, said Ifa, Sr. Comr. Elan approached her. Whispering in her ear, Elan asked Ifa to be prepared because legislators were going to grill Ifa on her reasons for changing the trial venue of Semarang Mayor Soemarmo Hadi Saputro and Central Java Council Speaker Murdoko from Semarang to Jakarta. The two cases are handled by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK). "At this point I became aware why I had been invited,and not the district court chief justice."
On April 4, the KPK submitted a request to the Supreme Court to have the trials of Soemarmo and Murdoko in Jakarta. Besides the SupremeCourt , the KPK letter was also copied to the Semarang District Court chairman who is also the Semarang Anticorruption Court chairman. After a month, the KPK sent a letter to the Semarang Prosecutor's Office, requesting support for the transfer of the trial venue of the two persons to the Jakarta Anticorruption Court.
When the request was made, the two were still under examination. Soemarmo was declared a suspect in the alleged bribery case of the endorsement of Semarang's draft budget for 2012.
The examination of this case began when the KPK caught Semarang Regional Secretary Akhmad Zaenuri bribing Semarang councilors Sumartono and Agung Purno Sardjono in the Semarang City Council offices at the end of November. While holding the three officials, the KPK also seized bribery evidence, worth Rp40 million in cash.
Two of the three perpetrators have been sentenced by the Semarang Anticorruption Court. Agung Purno is awaiting his verdict. From the trial of the three, it was discovered that the Semarang city administration had prepared Rp5.2 billion to bribe several party chairmen in Semarang and all members of the Semarang Council. The money distributed at that time was only Rp340 million. The KPK suspected Soemarmo of having initiated the bribes.
Murdoko was involved in a separate case. He was made indicted in a case involving the corruption of Kendal regency's budget of 2003. With the help of his older brother, Kendal Regent Hendy Boedoro, Murdoko, then a Semarang regional councilor, was accused of embezzling Rp3 billion from the Kendal regional treasury. The case was turned over by the police to the KPK. Apart from Murdoko, all the offenders implicated in this case have been sentenced to jail.
The KPK had plenty of reasons for transferring the trial from Semarang to Jakarta.
Based on the reports of several anticorruption agencies in Jakarta and Semarang to the KPK, both persons were seen as possessing financial strength and political clout that enabled them to control the Semarang Anticorruption Court. According to a member of the working body of Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW), Apung Widadi, the two were so strong that they could choose the judges who have so far often acquitted defendants in graft cases. "This was our concern," he said.
The KPK responded to the reports. In its request for the change of trial venue, the KPK stated the two suspects had the potential for mobilizing their supporters to occupy the court during trial sessions in Semarang.
The KPK's fear was strengthened by pieces of evidence, such as photos showing pro-Soemarmo, Pemuda Pancasila and Barisan Ansor Serba Guna youth masses occupying the courtrooms when Soemarmo testified in the trial of defendant Akhmad Zaenuri on March 21.
In mid-April, the KPK's request received a response from the Semarang District Court. One day after receiving the KPK letter, said Ifa, she promptly replied to it. At the time, Semarang District Court Chairman Sutjahjo Wasono was on leave, having suffered a stroke, and his duties were handled by Ifa. In the reply, the Semarang District Court had no objection to the trial of Soemarmo and Murdoko being moved to Jakarta. The Semarang Prosecutor's Office also sent the same reply. "It's because the court already agreed," said Head of the Semarang Prosecutor's Office Ranu Mihardja.
The two answers to the KPK later were used by the Supreme Court to grant the request made by the KPK. In a letter signed by Supreme Court Chairman Hatta Ali in mid-May, the court decided that Soemarmo and Murdoko would be tried in Jakarta. In the letter, the court apparently shared the anxiety of the KPK if both were to be tried in Semarang.
The approval led to a direct protest by Soemarmo's attorney, Hotma Sitompul. On Tuesday last week, Hotma reported the KPK to the DPR Legal Affairs Commission.
According to Hotma, the KPK's reason that his client's trial should be moved due to security reasons was an exaggeration. The accusation that the Semarang Mayor could influence the Anticorruption Court, he said, was illogical. "It's contemptible," remarked Hotma.
Hotma's complaint was quickly responded by DPR members.
The following day, in consultation with Supreme Court chief justice Hatta Ali, the Legal Affairs Commission asked the Supreme Court to cancel the approval of the trial venue change. "But it was rejected," said a Tempo source. The court's Justice Djoko Sarwoko referred to such a DPR action as a form of intervention in the judicial institution.
Unsuccessful, the nine Legal Affairs Commission members flew to Semarang. They had reasons to follow up on Hotma's report. The Tempo source said the main aim of their Semarang visit was to inquire about the trial transfer. The Tempo source indicated the legislators actually went to Semarang to seek the cancellation of the change of Murdoko's trial venue.
The transfer of Soemarmo, added the source, wasn't prioritized. As Executive Board Chairman of the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle, he noted, Murdoko had stronger political access. "The reason to ask about other cases was just a disguise," said this source.
Ifa admitted at the meeting last week the nine legislators posed more questions about the transfer of trial of Soemarmo and Murdoko. Some ofthem, she said, also asked why she had replied to the KPK letter in the form of a copy. Ifa mentioned Aziz Syamsuddin, Nasir Djamil, and Syarifudin Sudding as those quizzing her severely. According to Ifa, she was grilled like a defendant. "Later they requested me to revise the letter to the KPK," she added.
The DPR moves were seen by the Indonesian Judicial Monitoring Coalition as an intervention in the country's judiciary. On Thursday last week, the alliance of some anticorruption agencies like ICW and the Indonesian Transparency Society reported four Legal Affairs Commission members to the National Police HQ with the allegation of preventing the judicial process. Those reported were Aziz Syamsuddin, Nasir jamil, Syarifuddin Sudding, and Abu Bakar Al-Habsyi. On Monday this week, the Coalition will also report them to the Honorary Council. "The evidence of their violations is solid," said a coalition member, Apung Widadi.
Syarifuddin Sudding described the Coalition report as a form of contempt of parliament. The Law Commission's moves regarding the transfer of the Soemarmo and Murdoko trials, he said, were due to the wrong procedures taken. Syarifuddin also denied the presence of any other interests of the Law Commission. "I'm going to file a suit against them," Syarifuddin said.
Meanwhile, Nasir Jamil from the United Development Party (PPP) Faction and Abu Bakar Al-Habsyi from the Justice and Prosperity Party (PKS) Faction said the Coalition's report to the National Police was aimless. They affirmed that no intervention in the judiciary had occurred.
By Anton Aprainto (Jakarta), Rofiuddin (Semarang)
No. 42/12, June 13, 2012