Subject: JP: Corruption case, poor performance plague Indon AGO

The Jakarta Post October 12, 2002

Corruption case, poor performance plague AGO

Muhammad Nafik, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

President Megawati Soekarnoputri has been advised to immediately dismiss Attorney General M.A. Rachman not only because of allegations of corruption, but also for his poor performance in boosting the image of his office.

Rachman has been under constant pressure to resign, and Megawati has also been urged to dismiss him for concealing some of his assets in his wealth report presented to the Public Servants' Wealth Audit Commission (KPKPN).

Legal experts have said that Rachman weakened the public's trust in the Attorney General's Office as many big-time corruption and human rights cases had been left untouched or not seriously prosecuted.

"Talking about the attorney general's performance is tiresome. He is no different from his predecessors, Andi Muhammad Ghalib, Marzuki Darusman or Ismudjoko," noted lawyer Todung Mulya Lubis told The Jakarta Post over the weekend.

Nursyahbani Kantjasungkana, the executive director of the Legal Aid Institute's Association of Indonesian Women for Justice (LBH-APIK), shared a similar opinion.

"His (Rachman's) performance is disappointing. Since he took on the job last year, he has failed to propel the national anticorruption movement," she told the Post separately.

"Many cases that have drawn serious attention from the public are not followed up and some were processed with obscure and weak indictments," she added.

For example, Nursyahbani said there was persistent disappointment over the failure of Rachman's office to prosecute the former top leaders of the Indonesian Military (TNI) implicated in the 1999 atrocities in East Timor.

An inquiry team established by the National Commission on Human Rights (Komnas HAM) recommended that former TNI chief Gen. (ret) Wiranto and other top brass in power when the mayhem took place be held responsible for the violence.

The trials were held in Jakarta only for lower and middle-ranking officers charged with involvement in the destruction of East Timor when it voted for independence on Aug. 30, 1999.

Last August, the ad hoc Human Rights Tribunal at the Central Jakarta District Court acquitted former East Timor Police chief Brig. Gen. Timbul Selaen and five other police and military officers of charges of crimes against humanity.

State prosecutors had accused Timbul of failure to prevent or stop his subordinates from committing systematic torture and killings in the country's former 27th province.

Nursyahbani said the acquittals clearly showed that the prosecutors had presented weak indictments, witnesses and evidence in the trials. "That's why, the court was able to throw them out easily," she added.

She said that although House of Representatives Speaker Akbar Tandjung was sentenced to three years for misappropriating Rp 40 billion (US$4.4 million) in state funds, prosecutors failed to trace what the ill-gotten money was spent on before it was returned to the state.

Many believe that the funds were used by the Akbar-led Golkar Party to help finance its political campaign ahead of the 1999 elections.

Rachman was also slammed for his slow action in handling another high-profile graft scandal involving Bank Indonesia liquidity support (BLBI), which cost the state billions of U.S. dollars.

The Attorney General's Office had to share the blame for the recent acquittal of Bank Indonesia Governor Sjahril Sabirin by the Jakarta High Court in connection with his role in the 1999 Bank Bali scandal as the indictment presented against him was weak.

Weak indictments were also arranged against other defendants in the same scandal, such as businessman Djoko S. Tjandra and former deputy chairman of the Indonesian Bank Restructuring Agency (IBRA) Pande N. Lubis, which led to their acquittals in 2000.

Todung said Rachman was not the only problem in upholding the law.

"It depends entirely on President Megawati (Soekarnoputri's) political will in law enforcement. From the beginning, she has not put justice or law enforcement on the priority agenda," he said.

"If the situation doesn't change, all remains hopeless," Todung said.

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