The Bill on the Criminal Procedure Law is expected to be finalized and ready for submission to the House of Representatives (DPR) by August 2007 (and it is still yet to do this). However, this target date is far from being assured and further delays are possible. Nevertheless, the Bill introduces some significant changes to criminal procedure and these changes will have an immediate impact on the conduct of criminal matters from the investigation stage through to the verdict and appeal stages.
The most interesting of these changes is the incorporation of the Judge de Liberte de la Detention concept as the Judge Commissioner in the Bill. In essence the Judge Commissioner has the authority to evaluate the investigation and prosecution phases and other powers as granted under the provisions of the Bill.
Some of these other authorities include re-interrogating suspects and witnesses to ensure that a proper trial has been conducted. These authorities permit the Judge Commissioner to make determinations regarding the legality or not of any arrest or detention, to issue search and seizure orders, and the tapping of telecommunications, among others. The Judge Commissioner will also oversee the cooperation between the various law enforcement agencies to ensure that the case file does not bounce around these agencies and cause a delay to a fair and speedy trial process.
The position of Judge Commissioner will be held by a judge selected from the High Court and then appointed by the President for a term of 2 years.
The time a suspect can be kept in detention is reduced to 15 days and any extension to this period of detention is to be based on an application to the Judge Commissioner. If the application is granted the detention period can be extended.
In terms of legal recourse for the parties to a proceeding, all decisions may be appealed to a higher court; District Court to High Court and High Court to Supreme Court. However, acquittals are specifically excluded from this list. The current practice within the courts makes a distinction between absolute and conditional acquittals however this distinction is not made within either the current law or the Bill. On face value this distinction would appear to allow subjective discretion to be applied by the courts in accepting lower court decisions on appeal.
The judicial review (peninjauan kembali / PK) for cases will only be granted if there is new evidence or a situation existed that was not know at the time or adduced in the hearings that would have resulted in a different decision. Decision where there are conflicting decisions handed down for the same crime to different defendants, one is found guilty and the other is acquitted. In these cases the decisions will be subject to review.
The other issues in the Bill of interest are the broadening of the authorities for prosecutors to set aside cases where the allegations relate to minor offences subject to a term of imprisonment of less than a year or a fine or where the suspect / defendant is above 70 years of age.
It is unlikely that this Bill will pass the DPR in 2007.