Monday, 23 July, 2012 | 17:46 WIB
Do Not Free Corruptors
TEMPO Interactive, Jakarta:A Supreme Court ruling that sentences a defendant convicted of corruption to probation, a light sentence or a suspended sentence is not acceptable. Not only does it hurt one's sense of justice, but it is also against the spirit of the war against corruption. This ruling gives the message that corruption is allowed as long as the amount involved is not considered massive.
As an example, a light sentence is today being enjoyed by Agus Siyadi, 36, village secretary of Gili Ketapang, Sumberasih, Probolinggo, East Java. In its ruling late last week, the Supreme Court sentenced Agus to two months in prison. He was convicted of misappropriating the village administration budget worth Rp5.795 million.
This ruling contradicts the previous convictions, both at the Probolinggo District Court and the Surabaya High Court, where Agus was sentenced to one year in jail and a fine of Rp50 million. He also had to return back the money that he corrupted.
Ironically, though found guilty, Agus did not have to languish too much time in jail. The three Supreme Court Judges merely handed down a four-month suspended sentence. In other words, as long as he does not commit a crime again within the next four months or violate the agreement, he is a free man. According to the judges, the suspended sentence was because the state money that was unaccounted for was relatively not a big amount.
Such a reason does not make sense because, regardless of the amount of money involved, those convicted of corruption should serve a minimum of a year in jail. Moreover, this highest of judicial institutions in Indonesia had clearly declared Agus guilty of violating Articles 3 and 18 paragraphs 1 and 3 of Law No. 31 of 1999 on the Eradication of Corruption.
The Supreme Court’s ruling contradicts the contents of the Law. The Law stipulates that the punishment for a defendant convicted of corruption is a minimum of one year in jail and a maximum of life imprisonment. The ruling also violates Article 14a paragraph 1 of the Book of Criminal Law (Penal Code), which stipulates that a suspended sentence can only be applied when a defendant has been sentenced to a maximum of one year in prison.
The public’s sense of justice has been deeply hurt by the decision at the cassation level. Once again we are seeing a law enforcement that is always soft on criminals but, on the other hand, very tough on ordinary people. We can still remember how Nenek Rasminah, an old woman, a resident of Tangerang, Banten, in January, was sentenced to 4 months 10 days by the Supreme Court for stealing some fruit plates. Or Nenek Minah, a resident of Darmakradenan, Banyumas, Central Java, who was sentenced to one and a half months in prison with a three-month probation for stealing three cacao plants in 2009.
The verdict on Agus adds to the growing list of minor penalties imposed by the Supreme Court against those convicted of corruption. Based on Indonesia Corruption Watch’s record, in 2010, the Supreme Court handed down merely less than two years in prison to a total of 60.68 per cent. This will a bad precedence for enforcing the law when "bad" judges adopt such a ruling as jurisprudence of the court. In other words, there will be more defendants in corruption cases who will walk. ****