Overboard Bank Century Ruling

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  • Vice President Boediono is sworn before delivering a testimony in the Bank Century case at the Anti-corruption Court, South Jakarta (9/5). TEMPO/Dhemas Reviyanto

    Vice President Boediono is sworn before delivering a testimony in the Bank Century case at the Anti-corruption Court, South Jakarta (9/5). TEMPO/Dhemas Reviyanto

    TEMPO.CO, Jakarta - Effendi Mukhtars strike of the gavel reignited the Bank Century controversy. The South Jakarta District Court judge went too far in his pre-trial ruling. He ordered the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) to continue the investigation into the Bank Century affair and named former Bank Indonesia (BI) Governor Boediono and his colleagues suspects.

    The ruling was clearly outside the scope of a pre-trial hearing. According to the Criminal Code Procedure, the authority of judges in pre-trial hearings is limited to (ruling on) the legitimacy of arrests, detentions, and discontinuation of investigations and prosecutions. Recently, the Constitutional Court extended this authority to suspect-naming. 

    The judge should have refused the pre-trial motion put forward by the Indonesian Anti-Corruption People’s Association. The plaintiffs, represented by Boyamin Saiman, equated the protracted nature of the Bank Century case with "material discontinuation of an investigation." This strange reasoning should have been rejected. The KPK has never issued an order to stop the Bank Century investigation. In fact, the law prohibits the KPK from issuing orders to discontinue investigations. 

    Boyamin had already lodged pre-trial motions five times after former BI Governor Budi Mulya was found guilty. All five were refused because the motion was not within the scope of a pre-trial -or fell outside the court’s jurisdiction-as the KPK never issued an order to stop the investigation. Strangely, the sixth motion was granted by Judge Effendi, who even ordered the KPK to either declare Boediono and other suspects or hand the case over to another law enforcement agency. Effendi’s ruling was clearly outside the scope of his authority.

    Boediono and his colleagues were mentioned in Budi Mulya’s prosecution document, but even though Budi has been subjected to a final legal verdict, these individuals do not automatically become suspects. Boediono and his colleagues must first be examined and questioned. The law enforcement process is the responsibility of the KPK, the police, or the Attorney General’s Office, and these institutions should not be dictated by judges.

    Investigation into the Bank Century affair has been riddled with controversy and subjected to political pressure. The bank was rescued by a BI Short-Term Funding Facility (FPJP) in 2008, before further handling by the Financial System Stability Committee. Budi played a role in granting the FPJP to the tune of Rp689 billion. But this was, in fact, a separate criminal offense. The KPK found that one of the reasons Budi pushed for the rescue of Century in a BI governors’ meeting was his relationship with Century owner Robert Tantular. In Budi Mulya’s prosecution document, the KPK claimed Robert had lent Budi Rp1 billion shortly before Century was rescued. But it is uncertain whether other BI officials were driven by similar motivations. 

    The Supreme Court bears some responsibility for the legal chaos resulting from judge Effendi’s ruling. The Court once gave the opportunity to review pre-trial rulings in the case of "misuse of the law." But later, Supreme Court Regulation No. 14/2016 closed this window for challenging pre-trial rulings.

    The Judicial Commission and the Supreme Court must question Effendi about his extreme ruling. The Court must not simply ignore the overboard ruling without providing a solution.

    Read the full article in this week's edition of Tempo English Magazine