A reduction in sentences, from death to 15 years imprisonment, by the Supreme Court has become the focus of heated public debate. The DPR Judicial Commission has formed a team to investigate the possibility of bribery.
Throughout the past two weeks, Supreme Court Judge Imron Anwari has been very busy. Apart from studying case files which continue to pile up on his desk, he must deal with an additional task: fending off charges against him.
The peak came on Tuesday and Wednesday last week, when he was "tried" by his own colleagues. Imron will have to answer the questions of an investigative team formed by Supreme Court chief justice, Hatta Ali. "The investigation was requested by Pak Imron himself, who felt he had been pushed into a corner," Djoko Sarwoko, deputy presiding judge for Special Crimes and a member of the investigation team, told Tempo.
The same team will investigate Justices Achmad Yamanie and Nyak Pha. The three of them made up the trio of judges who overturned the death sentence of Hanky Gunawan, owner of an ecstasy factory. Of this threesome, Imron, who usually serves as deputy presiding judge at the Military Court, acted as the presiding judge. Indeed, Imron began his career as a clerk at the South Sulawesi Military Court. His final rank was that of brigadier general.
The investigation team was formed after the Caucus on the Protection of Children from Narcotics reported Imron and his two colleagues to the Judicial Commission. Joining the Caucus were, among others, the Indonesian Commission for the Protection of Children, the National Narcotics Agency, the Anti-Narcotics Movement and the Indonesian Council of Ulama (MUI).
According to Suparman Marzuki, the Judicial Commission's Supervision and Investigation chairman, Imron was not only reported by the Caucus. Even judges in the regions trpotyrf on several of the decisions on narcotics cases he had handled. "He's been on our radar for sometime," remarked Suparman. For this case, the Commission had already formed two teams. One team was to examine the decisions in a narcotics cases handed down by Imron and another will go out into the field. "We will investigate the possibility that there has been bribery," said Suparman.
The large house on the corner of Jalan Kombes M. Duriyat and Jalan Pregolan appeared quiet. A three meter high iron fence concealed the front of the house. When Tempo knocked on the fence, no one answered, even though the garden hose was extended and showed signs of use. The grass and flowers appeared to be wet.
The house is known as belonging to Hanky Gunawan, who is now being held at Porong Prison in Sidoarjo. Hanky, 42, was arrested by the police on May 23, 2006, accused of producing ecstasy pills at a rented house in the Graha Famili complex in Surabaya. Hanky produced the ecstasy pills together with two of his friends, Brian Lingso Direjo and Suwarno. He was also suspected of distributing the ecstasy pills through Cristian Salim (also known as Awe) and his acquaintances in Jakarta.
At the Surabaya District Court, on April 4, 2007, the prosecutor accused Hanky of being involved in organized crime, producing and distributing ecstasy, as well as laundering the financial proceeds of his crime, about Rp500 million. Several articles of law were used by the prosecutor: the laws on psychotropic drugs and money laundering and the Criminal Code. The prosecutor demanded the death sentence for Hanky.
However, on April 17, 2007, the Surabaya District Court sentenced him to only 15 years in jail and a fine of Rp500 million. According to the judges, Hanky was not proven to be involved in organized crime such as in the prosecutor's indictment. He was only found guilty of producing and distributing ecstasy as well as laundering money.
On July 11, 2007, judges at the Surabaya High Court lengthened Hanky's sentence to 18 years imprisonment and a fine of Rp600 million. Still not satisfied, the prosecutors appealed. It was here that Hanky received the maximum sentence. On November 20, 2007, the appeal judges, made up of Iskandar Kamil, Komariah Emong Sapardjaja, and Kaimuddin Salle, handed down Hanky the death sentence. The judges found that Hanky had been involved in organized crime.
Through his legal counsel, Hanky filed for a case review. Among other new evidence, they introduced the decision of judges over Awe. The West Jakarta District Court had sentenced Awe as a user of methamphetamine, and sentenced him to just eight months in prison. Even though, according to Hanky's case file, Awe was known to have taken 50,000 ecstasy pills from Suwarno and distributing them in Jakarta.
Hanky's lawyers also argued that the death penalty went against the Universal Declaration of Human Rights, the 1945 Constitution, and, Human Rights Laws. Unexpectedly, on August 16, 2011, the panel of judges reviewing the case repealed Hanky verdict. The panel of judges was made of Imron Anwari, Achmad Yamanie and Nyak Pha.
The judges agreed with the arguments of Hanky's lawyers, stating that determining the severity of the sentences was the responsibility of the first court, not the appelate judges. The judges were also in agreement that calling for the death sentence was tantamount to violating humn rights. Imron and his colleagues said that Hanky had not been proven guilty of practising organized crime. His sentence was reduced to the same as that of the original district court: 15 years in prison and a fine of Rp500 million.
According to Djoko Sarwoko, Imron explained that human rights were not the only consideration. He reduced Hanky's sentence because the primary accusation of the prosecutor organized crime had not been proven. To those questioning him, said Djoko, Imron insisted that he was not opposed to death sentences. "He has given death sentences on six occasions," remarked Djoko.
Whatever Imron's arguments, his decision in the Hanky case extends his record of lightening sentences in narcotics cases. On October 6, 2010, for example, in a final appeal by Nigerian citizen, Hillary K. Chimezie, charged with of distributing 5.8 kilograms of heroin, Imron relieved him of the death sentence. Imron was one of three judges along with Supreme Court judges Timur P. Manurung and Suwardi.
Together with judges Achmad Yamanie and Timur P. Manurung, on May 27, 2011, via an appeal decision, Imron released Naga Sariawan Cipto Rimba (also known as Liong-Liong) from his sentence. Previously, the owner of a motorbike workshop had been sentenced to 17 years by the Banjarmasin District Court and High Court because he had received a packet of methamphetamine weighing over 1 kilogram.
Granted, there were also wide "holes" in the two cases. In Hillary's case, for example, the key witnesses Marlena and Izuchukwu Okoloaja were not brought before the court because they died in police custody. In Liong's case, apart from the packet of methamphetamine, there was no other evidence which implicated him as a member of a narcotics syndicate.
The deputy executive director of the Institute for Assessment and Advocacy, Arsil, stated that inconsistency in decision making had indeed become a problem at the Supreme Court. What is often at odds, he remarked, was not just the differing decisions of judges, but even the same judges who often hand down decisions with conflicting considerations. Even though, according to Arsil, appeal courts have the function of ensuring integrity in the application of the law as a guide for the courts below them. He said rather than try to overturn these decisions, which have legal certainty, there is a more important course of action, revealing what is behind these strange decisions. "In narcotics cases, those susceptible to bribery, prosecutors and judges, must be continuously watched," he said.
Arsil's warning is not without basis. To Tempo, a former judge who often presided over narcotics cases recounted that during investigation and the legal process, the accomplices of drug syndicates do not remain idle. They are prepared to pay a lot of money provided that law enforcement officials comply with their requests.
The former judge was once offered this type of arrangement. At that time, out of curiosity, the judge sent one of his confidantes to meet a representative of the syndicate. It turned out that they wanted their courier to be spared the death penalty. "Each time a courier is sentenced to death, it appears that the syndicates have trouble finding replacements," the judge remarked. The judge was offered Rp2 billion. "At higher levels, appeal judges for example, it's definitely more," said the judge who refused the offer and eventually handed down a death sentence.
The prosecuting attorney in Hanky's case, Mulyono, related a similar story. When he demanded that Hanky be given the death sentence, offers of money came to him and other members of his team. "We were not tempted and stayed strong," he remarked.
The Attorney General's Office has stated that it was open to anyone who can provide evidence of bribery behind judges who reduce the sentences of people guilty of narcotics violation. So far, said Djoko, they have no evidence. "When there is evidence, please report it. We will follow it up," said Djoko.
By Jajang Jamaludin, Anton Aprianto, Kukuh S. Wibowo (Surabaya)
No. 09/13, October 23, 2012