Setya dodges pros­e­cu­tion

Setya sur­vives an­other test KPK will need to find new ev­i­dence to net Setya

The Jakarta Post - - FRONT PAGE - Khar­ishar Kahfi and Mar­gareth S. Ari­to­nang

Like a cat with its myth­i­cal nine lives, Golkar Party chair­man and House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives Speaker Setya No­vanto, a key ally of Pres­i­dent Joko “Jokowi” Wi­dodo, has man­aged to es­cape even the most se­vere tests to his po­lit­i­cal sur­vival.

He dodged the bul­let yet again on Fri­day af­ter the South Jakarta District Court is­sued a pe­ti­tion to re­voke his sus­pect sta­tus in a graft case touted by the Cor­rup­tion Erad­i­ca­tion Com­mis­sion (KPK) as the coun­try’s big­gest — in terms of state losses — in at least a decade.

With the court’s de­ci­sion, the KPK can no longer con­tinue its pros­e­cu­tion against Setya based on the cur­rent ev­i­dence.

“[I hereby] par­tially grant the plain­tiff’s mo­tion, or­der­ing the de­fen­dant [KPK] to stop their in­ves­ti­ga­tion of Setya No­vanto,” sole judge Cepi Iskan­dar said dur­ing the read­ing of the rul­ing, which has raised a cho­rus of con­dem­na­tion from anti­graft ac­tivists who deemed the out­come a trav­esty of jus­tice.

How­ever, Cepi de­nied Setya’s re­quest for the KPK to re­voke its travel ban on him.

The rul­ing ul­ti­mately hinged on ev­i­dence used by the KPK to name Setya a sus­pect, but Cepi ar­gued that the ev­i­dence was in­ad­mis­si­ble be­cause it had been taken from cases that im­pli­cated par­ties who have now been con­victed, namely former Home Min­istry of­fi­cials Ir­man and Sugi­harto.

Cepi sug­gested that the KPK col­lect new ev­i­dence.

“There­fore, the KPK does not have suf­fi­cient ev­i­dence to name Setya a sus­pect in the case,” Cepi said, adding that the KPK had not fol­lowed pro­ce­dure.

A pre­trial de­ci­sion can­not be ap­pealed.

Setya is ac­cused of play­ing a key role in a scheme to skim funds ear­marked for e-ID pro­cure­ments be­tween 2009 and 2012, cost­ing the state Rp 2.3 tril­lion (US$ 171 mil­lion).

KPK le­gal bureau head Se­tiadi, who was present at the hear­ing, said the anti­graft body re­spected the rul­ing, but sug­gested the judge may not have been metic­u­lous enough in reach­ing his de­ci­sion.

KPK deputy chair­man Laode Muham­mad Syarif ex­pressed the agency’s dis­ap­point­ment with the out­come, which he said “hin­dered at­tempts to re­solve the case.”

Both Se­tiadi and Laode said the KPK would study the rul­ing be­fore de­ter­min­ing a strat­egy to main­tain Setya as a per­son of in­ter­est in the case.

How­ever, Se­tiadi also hinted that the KPK would is­sue a let­ter or­der­ing the start of an­other in­ves­ti­ga­tion into Setya’s al­leged role in the graft scan­dal, as a 2016 Supreme Court reg­u­la­tion al­lows the is­suance of a new or­der for an in­ves­ti­ga­tion even af­ter a sus­pect sta­tus is re­voked in a pre­trial hear­ing.

In­done­sia Cor­rup­tion Watch (ICW) ac­tivist Lalola Easter was op­ti­mistic the KPK would have no ob­sta­cles in re­build­ing its case.

There have been prece­dents that saw sus­pects es­cape pros­e­cu­tion due to pre­trial hear­ings, only to be re­named as sus­pects, she added.

Lalola cited the graft case in­volv­ing former Makas­sar Mayor Il­ham Arief Si­ra­jud­din. A pre­trial de­ci­sion in fa­vor of Arief was is­sued in 2015, but the KPK re­named him a sus­pect two weeks later. Arief is now serv­ing a fouryear prison sen­tence.

De­spite the re­prieve from pros­e­cu­tion, Setya con­tin­ues to be dogged by de­mands from Golkar ri­vals to step down fol­low­ing a plunge in the party’s electabil­ity based on a re­cent sur­vey.

Golkar ex­ec­u­tive chair­man Nur­din Halid said that “re­gard­less of the out­come of Setya’s pre­trial mo­tion, the party will con­tinue to eval­u­ate his chair­man­ship.”

He as­sured that the le­gal process Setya was fac­ing would have lit­tle im­pact on the po­lit­i­cal process of his fu­ture lead­er­ship in Golkar, the coun­try’s sec­ond big­gest party af­ter Jokowi’s In­done­sia Demo­cratic Party of Strug­gle (PDI-P).

“The eval­u­a­tion we are cur­rently con­duct­ing is to re­spond to the party’s de­clin­ing electabil­ity, be­cause we must soon take mea­sures with the re­gional elec­tions ap­proach­ing,” Nur­din said Fri­day on the side­lines of Golkar’s na­tional meet­ing to pre­pare for next year’s elec­tion.

“So, whether or not the court grants his pre­trial re­quest, it has noth­ing to do with what the ex­ec­u­tive board has been do­ing.”

Setya, who has been tar­geted in three dif­fer­ent ma­jor graft cases in the past but has evaded pros­e­cu­tion, has been a staunch sup­porter of Jokowi by keep­ing Golkar in the rul­ing coali­tion, which ac­counts for the ma­jor­ity in the House of Rep­re­sen­ta­tives.

Un­der Setya, Golkar is the first party guar­an­tee­ing a pres­i­den­tial ticket for Jokowi in the 2019 pres­i­den­tial elec­tion, de­spite a de­ci­sion by PDI-P not to fol­low suit.

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