THE freedom that Joko Soegiarto Tjandra had to leave and return to Indonesia while still on the wanted list is a sign that something is not right with law enforcement in this country.
A man convicted of corruption who should have been jailed for stealing state funds seems to have been given the red carpet treatment by being allowed to manage the case against him. This incident is a stain on the face of our law enforcement system.
Having been a fugitive since June 11, 2009, Joko returned to Indonesia in March. Not only was he easily able to arrange a new ID card in South Grogol subdistrict, South Jakarta, but he also managed to file a request for a reexamination of the case involving him at the South Jakarta District Court. The secretive moves of the fugitive became public knowledge after Attorney General Sanitiar Burhanuddin revealed them to the House of Representatives’ (DPR) Legal Commission on Monday, June 29.
It is difficult to deny there is an aroma of collusion around the return of the man convicted over the Bank Bali cessie scandal that cost the state hundreds of billions of rupiah. Joko never even served the two-year sentence handed down by the Supreme Court 11 years ago. The fact that he was able to pass through airports as he liked means that Joko had control over the immigration directorate-general of the justice and human rights ministry. The freedom he had to travel around Indonesia without any problems is a sign of the lack of effectiveness of the intelligence team at the Attorney General’s Office (AGO) .
Joko has long been a man out of reach of the Indonesian legal authorities, despite the ease with which it has been possible to trace the movements of the boss of the multi-trillion-rupiah property company. While he was on the run, Joko traveled between Malaysia and Papua New Guinea, two nations that have extradition treaties with Indonesia. It is fair to assume that there is a network of powerful people at the highest levels who have being providing protection for Joko and who have made him invulnerable.
Another oddity that allowed the fugitive to travel freely in Indonesia is the covert removal of Joko’s name from the Interpol National Central Bureau’s red notice list. The disappearance of Joko’s name is an indication that there was no longer a request to detain him from the AGO. This gave the immigration directorate-general the opportunity to erase his name from the border control system. These various indications have only increased suspicions among the public that there are particular individuals who wanted to allow Joko to enter Indonesia.
The responsibility for proving that these suspicions are mistaken lies with the highest levels of the AGO, the national police and the justice and human rights ministry. They must work hard to carry out internal corrections, impose punishments for infractions committed by staff, and publish the results of their investigations.
Even this is not enough. The best way for the law enforcement authorities to assuage public doubts would be the immediate detention of Joko Tjandra. The AGO and the national police could begin by charging Joko with falsification of documents. The identity acrobatics that he used appear to be a violation of Law No. 23/2006 on demographic administration. Under this law, Joko could be jailed for six years and or be fined up to Rp50 million. As well as this, he could be charged under Article 263 of the Criminal Code for falsification of documents.
The government must not be indifferent when monitoring the hearings into the reexamination request filed by Joko. Some suspect that all of these maneuvers by Joko are aimed at freeing him from all the charges that he has faced. If the eventual target of scenario is realized, that will be the end of our legal system. Indications of this have been apparent since May 2016, when the Constitutional Court found for Anna Boentaran, Joko’s wife, who had filed a request for a material examination. Included in the ruling was the finding that public prosecutors cannot ask for a reexamination of court verdicts that are final and conclusive. It is this ruling that provides the background for Joko return to Jakarta in March to file a request for a reexamination of his case.
The Supreme Court must not provide any opportunities for ‘games’ in the hearing into Joko’s request for a reexamination. There is plenty of evidence for corruption in the Bank Bali scandal. Pande Lubis, the deputy chairman of the Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency, was sentenced to four years in jail for the same case in 2004. Furthermore, the appeal process launched by Joko was rife with collusion and indications of violations of the law.
The Joko Chandra case is a major test for law enforcement and the judicial system in Indonesia. We will all see if the considerations of judges in this nation are truly fair, or are heavily biased towards the powerful people protecting Joko.