JAKARTA, KOMPAS.com – Indonesian anti-graft organizations have questioned the Supreme Court's commitment to fight corruption, after it reduced the sentence of disgraced Democrat party legislator Anas Urbaningrum from 14 to eight years on October 1 following a case review.
The country's top anti-corruption body, Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), expressed disappointment at the court's decision.
“[The reduced sentences] shows that [the Supreme Court] and KPK do not see eye to eye in fighting corruption,” said KPK spokesman Ali Fikri.
“Although convicts have the right to file case reviews, the Supreme Court’s leniency will undermine public confidence [in the legal process].”
"How can Indonesia be graft-free when the courts give them a slap on the wrist?” asked Indonesia Corruption Watch researcher Kurnia Ramadhana, noting that the high court has meted out sentences averaging less than three years to those convicted of corruption since 2019.
Academics attributed the lighter sentences to internal shifts in the Supreme Court and KPK.
“The sentence reductions coincided with the retirement of Supreme Court Justice Artidjo Alkostar, a judge renowned for imposing stiff sentences on graft convicts,” said Gadjah Mada University researcher Zaenur Rohman.
“In contrast, his successors took a more lenient stance [towards corruption].”
Trisakti University criminal law expert Abdul Fickar Hadjar traced the problem to laws governing the KPK.
“Revisions to the laws on the KPK stipulate that corruption is no longer an extraordinary crime,” Fickar said. “This removed the Supreme Court justices’ sense of urgency and explains their lenient verdicts.”
Supreme Court spokesman Andi Samsan Nganro insisted that the case reviews have a more practical explanation.
“The granting of case reviews like those permitted by the Supreme Court remedied miscarriages of justice stemming from human error,” he said. “It also stems from the need to standardize the sentences.”
Anas chaired the then-ruling Democrat Party during the administration of President Joko Widodo’s immediate predecessor Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
The Supreme Court gave him a 14-year jail sentence in 2013 after they found him guilty of accepting bribes to develop a sports complex in Hambalang, West Java. The scandal cost the state Rp. 2.5 trillion [$168,234,225].
His accomplice Choel Mallarangeng also had his sentence reduced from three years and six months to three years. The two men are among 20 graft convicts whose sentences were slashed by the Supreme Court.
(Writer: Ardito Ramadhan | Editor: Icha Rastika)
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