Monday, June 25, 2012

Small wonder

You know that quaint legal idea of not being able to profit from one's crimes? It hasn't quite caught on here in Indonesia.

A brief from today's Jakarta Globe:
A court in East Kalimantan has sentenced Abdul Hafid Ahmad, the former head of Nunukan district, to two years in prison and fined him Rp 50 million ($5,300) for embezzling Rp 7 billion from the 2004-05 district budget.
The sentence on Monday from the Anti-Corruption Court in Samarinda, the provincial capital, was substanitally lower than the six years and Rp 200 million fine sought by prosecutors.
A demand for him to repay the Rp 7 billion was also turned down, with the court ruling that there was “no proof that Hafid had enjoyed the money.”
After the ruling, Hafid insisted he was innocent and said he would appeal.
In case you're keeping score at home, this guy has to pay $5,300 and spend two years in the clink — which will inevitably be reduced on appeal — but gets to keep the $740,000 he skimmed from the district budget because the prosecution couldn't prove he "enjoyed" it. Small wonder people are so skittish about taking their chances with the Indonesian legal system.

The reason it's a brief rather than a front-page story on an egregious miscarriage of justice is because graft convicts are regularly fined a fraction of the amount they skimmed off for themselves. More often than not, they're not obliged by the courts to return their ill-gotten gains, either. Small wonder Indonesia is one of the countries where graft is most associated with the cost of doing business.

Not that those tasked with enforcing the country's laws are doing themselves any favors. When mayors and district heads can ignore rulings by the Supreme Court and the police can be cowed by the mere threat of violence by religious thugs, small wonder people question how much weight the rule of law really carries in Indonesia.

No comments:

Post a Comment