Rizal Ramli: Akbar’s verdict planned long ago

Koran Tempo – February 26, 2004
The former head of National Logistics Agency Rizal Ramli (Tribune)
The former head of National Logistics Agency Rizal Ramli (Tribune)

“The Supreme Court will deal with corrupt government officials on the sole basis they were carrying out the orders of a superior”.

Jakarta – Rizal Ramli, the former head of the National Logistics Agency (Bulog) during the era of former President Abdurrahman Wahid, has said the Supreme Court’s decision to free Akbar Tanjung from charges of misusing Bulog non-budgetary funds two weeks ago is part of a grand plot which was hatched long ago. “This plot put together when Gus Dur was still the president”, said Ramli in an open discussion organised by the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation in South Jakarta yesterday.

This plot, according to Ramli, was first put together when Wahid’s position as president was under threat by the first and second memorandum from the special committee on the Bulog corruption case which was formed by the parliament in mid-2000. At that time he said, Tanjung pressured Wahid to confirm Bagir Manan as the head of the Supreme Court. “In a direct way, this put Bagir Manan in Akbar’s debt”, said the former coordinating economics minister.

This debt, said Ramli, has been reciprocated two times. First when the head of the Supreme Court annulled Wahid’s presidential decree to disband the Golkar Party in July 2001. Second, during the nomination and selection of the Supreme Court by the People’s Representative Assembly. “Following this, the composition of the judges who would try Akbar’s case in the Supreme Court could already be predicted”, repeated Ramli.

The plot to rescue Tanjung from the charges of corruption on the pretext that he was only carrying out the orders of a superior, according to Ramli, had indeed been planned since the case first opened. “From the beginning, all of this was engineered”, he said calmly. Tanjung, said Ramli, also brought in a senior advocate who was known to be clean and who was offered US$1 million to handle his case. “After speaking with me, the advocate rejected Akbar’s offer”, said Ramli.

Using very sharp language, Ramli harshly criticised the Supreme Court’s decision to free Tanjung. “This is truly an insult against common sense”, he said, “I am nauseated, this country’s legal system depraved”, said the former student activist.

According to Ramli, it is as if the Supreme Court is unaware of the legal and jurisdiction implications which will following the decision to free Tanjung. “With this verdict, the Supreme Court has given the go ahead to government officials to commit [act of] corruption [knowing that they can claim they did it] on the grounds of carrying out the orders of a superior”, he said shaking his head.

Speaking at the same forum, the former head of the Attorney General’s Jakarta office, Lukman Bachmid, corroborated Ramli’s statement. “As a former prosecutor, I can prove that there was a plot in Tanjung’s case, it is enough just to read the copy of the Supreme Court’s decision”, he said.

The harsh statements by the two speakers seemed to provoke a reaction from Tanjung’s legal council, Amir Syamsuddin, who was also present at the forum. The atmosphere became tense when Syamsuddin challenged Ramli to prove his statement. “The public has the right to know. Stop the rhetoric, instead show [us] your evidence, if indeed you know what really happened”, said Syamsuddin.

Meanwhile, in Denpasar yesterday, Supreme Court judge M.A. Rachman admitted that he had already appointed special crimes deputy attorney general Sudhono Iswahyudi to lead a special team to study the decision to free Tanjung. This team will be made up of four members from outside of the Attorney General’s office. The recommendations of the special team said Rachman, will determine the what legal steps can be taken next by the Attorney General.

Contacted separately, the spokesperson for the Attorney General’s office, Kemas Yahya Rahman, explained that the special team started work one week ago, when a copy of the verdict to free Tanjung was received. “They haven’t been given a specific time limit, but the Attorney General has asked that the investigation to be completed as soon as possible”, said Rahman.

Rahman also emphasised that the team will be endeavoring to find a juridical basis to support the legal steps the Attorney General can take next in this case. “The copy of this decision is being studied right now, to discover if there are grounds to submit a review of the case”, he said. (sunariah/rachmad/wahyu)

[Translated by James Balowski.]