24 November 2010

Why Deponering Must Not Be An Option...

Deponering is a legacy of Dutch Colonial administration of the Dutch East Indies. It has remained a legal option for certain cases even after the Republic of Indonesia was declared. It has come to the fore again having been argued as an appropriate mechanism for concluding the "case" against Chandra M Hamzah and Bibit S Rianto. My opinion is that deponering is not an appropriate or suitable mechanism for resolving this case.

This post is not an in-depth legal analysis, it is opinion.

Deponering in its most simplest sense is the dismissal of a case in the public interest. In essence, the arguments for deponering in this case are that pursuing this case is likely to cause more problems than it resolves. particularly with respect to creating social and community unrest.

Chandra and Bibit are Commissioners on the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK). The allegation against them was that they extorted money, a bribe, out of a corruption suspect's brother, Anggodo Widjojo, in order to lift a travel ban on Anggoro. From the outset the case against the two KPK Commissioners was a farce. There was no evidence and continuing investigations into the supposed evidence only served to highlight a conspiracy to frame the two Commissioners as a means of weakening the KPK and its effectiveness in fighting corruption.

Nevertheless, the fact that the case is ongoing highlights just how far special interests have infiltrated the law enforcement and judicial systems. This is evidenced in the fact that the case was to all intents and purposes dropped once before, only to have the courts overturn the dismissal and set the case back in motion.

The matter is now at a stage where the Supreme Court is making statements that it thinks a deponering of the case is the best way forward. It is not the best way forward. The public interest is not best served by deponering this case.

There has been a concerted effort to smear and destroy the reputations of two honourable men. This effort has been facilitated in a large part by those individuals that have been tasked with upholding and enforcing the laws of the Republic of Indonesia. There is nothing to be gained in the public interest by trying to sweep this whole sordid affair under the carpet by deponering it.

The reality is that these two men deserve nothing less than complete vindication. If they have to go to court to get it, then so be it. Going to court though has a real Pandora's Box risk to it. Once you take the lid of this thing, one can not really be sure what might be exposed. This is the reason that a deponering resolution is being pushed as hard as it is. It avoids exposing the dirty workings of quite a number of state institutions. There might also be some concerns as to how high up the chain of command this smear campaign goes.

The problem with deponering is that the public angle here is that deponering is being spun as a confession of guilt without having to go to trial to get a conviction. This is the AGO's attempt to convict Chandra and Bibit in the Court of Public Opinion. Deponering is saying these two men are guilty as they were charged, we have the evidence to prove it, but because adducing this evidence in court will upset you the public, we have decided to let them off with a pass.

The correct resolution to this case is that it is dismissed with prejudice. The dismissal must also include a statement that contains explicit language which states in unequivocal language that there was never any evidence that Chandra or Bibit took bribes, that this case was fabricated from the start, and the final part of the dismissal of this case must name those who attempted to perpetrate this fraud against the Indonesian people. Anything less than this is an insult. It is an insult to Chandra and Bibit, and it is an insult to good law-abiding Indonesian citizens.

Deponering must not be an option. Indonesia deserves better!

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