Subject: KPK Tapes Reveal Indonesia's ‘Judicial Mafia ,’ Explain Munir Case Acquittal: Activists

Jakarta Globe

November 04, 2009

Markus Junianto Sihaloho

KPK Tapes Reveal Indonesia's ‘Judicial Mafia,’ Explain Munir Case Acquittal: Activists

Human rights activists are linking the presence of two names prominent in the anti-graft commission’s wiretapped conversations to the failure to get a conviction in the controversial Munir murder case, claiming the existence of a ‘judicial mafia’ in an apparent breakdown of public trust in the country’s law enforcement institutions.

Choirul Anam, of the Committee of Action and Solidarity for Munir (Kasum), on Wednesday pointed out that two of the names mentioned frequently on the tapes ­ those of Deputy Attorney General Abdul Hakim Ritonga and Wisnu Subroto, a retired deputy attorney general for intelligence ­ were prosecutors in the failed trial of Muchdi Purwopranjono. Muchdi is a powerful former spy chief charged with masterminding the murder of human rights activist Munir Said Thalib.

Choirul said the KPK scandal and Munir’s case shared similarities.

“In both cases, there are figures with huge political and economic power trying to systematically manipulate the legal process,” he said.

Munir’s widow, Suciwati, came to a similar conclusion after listening to the tapes, which were broadcast live during a Constitutional Court hearing on Tuesday.

“I see a very strong indication that the judicial mafia played a role in Munir’s case by setting it up in such a way that the prosecution’s case was deliberately weak,” Suciwati said.

The tapes described an apparent conspiracy to weaken the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) allegedly hatched by a network of high-ranking officials within the Attorney General’s Office and the National Police. The names of Ritonga and Wisnu are mentioned several times.

Choirul claims that Kasum’s investigations into the prosecution of Muchdi showed that Ritonga was the primary prosecutor. As the deputy attorney general for general crimes, Ritonga decided that the prosecution would only ask for a 10-year prison term for masterminding Munir’s murder, he said. In his role as the AGO’s chief of intelligence, Wisnu failed to provide the intelligence needed to build a strong case against Munir, he said.

Munir died of arsenic poisoning in September 2004 while flying from Jakarta to Amsterdam aboard a Garuda Indonesia plane. Muchdi was acquitted of the charges.

Prosecutors alleged that Muchdi had used his influence at the State Intelligence Agency (BIN) to arrange the murder to avenge his ousting from the top post of the Army’s Special Forces (Kopassus) in 1998. He reportedly believed Munir’s criticisms of the elite unit’s kidnapping of students and activists in 1997 and 1998 had cost him his career.

Suciwati said the taped telephone conversations had led her to believe that the AGO should set up a team to appeal Muchdi’s acquittal.

Separately, Sumiarsih, mother of Bernardus Realino Norma Irawan, an activist who died when soldiers fired into a pro-democracy rally in the 1998 Semanggi Tragedy, said hearing the tapes “opened my eyes into how strong the infiltration of a judicial mafia was in influencing law enforcement.”

Sumiarsih said she and the families of victims of past human rights abuses had long sought justice from AGO officials, including Ritonga and Subroto.

“It seems from the wiretapped conversations, that all those names are connected to the judicial mafia,” Sumiarsih said. “This maybe the missing link behind our failure to get justice.”

Kasum’s Choirul called for “a political decision from the president and the House of Representatives to thoroughly investigate the institutions that enforce the law.”

He added that Munir’s widow, Suciwati, had called for the same response.

The taped telephone conversations involved fugitive graft suspect Anggoro Widjojo, his brother Anggodo Widjojo, and an alleged plot to weaken the KPK and to systematically thwart its efforts to prosecute Anggoro.

According to the tapes, the plot against the KPK was hatched after the KPK targeted Anggoro for allegedly corrupt business practices at by his company, PT Masaro Radiokom. His company allegedly caused the state a total of Rp 180 billion ($18.9 million) in losses. 

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