Saturday, May 19, 2007

Abdul Rahman criticized over Soeharto case intervention

Friday, May 18, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Activists have criticized former Attorney General Abdul Rahman Saleh for allegedly intervening in the Attorney General's anticorruption campaign by asking incumbent Hendarman Supandji not to continue investigations into former president Soeharto's corruption cases.

"We see his (Abdul Rahman's) statement as unethical and politically motivated," said a member of Imparsial -- a human rights monitoring group.

"It's such a misleading message because the Attorney General's Office (AGO) still has many cases of corruption and human rights violations to pursue," Donny Ardiyanto said Wednesday.

Abdul Rahman allegedly told his successor during the transfer-of-duty ceremony earlier this month that Hendarman should not prosecute corruption cases involving Soeharto.

But Donny said as a former attorney general, Abdul Rahman must consider cases involving corruption as highly contentious -- not only because they had caused huge losses to the state, but also because they usually involved many government and law enforcement officials.

"An attorney general has a heavy task because he has to deal with colleagues from other law enforcement institutions and also government officials," Donny said.

"But he should have realized that."

Donny hinted there might be a possibility of Soeharto being granted amnesty for his corruption cases.

He said this would be in recognition of Soeharto's contribution to the country and his aging condition.

But Donny said the key to resolving any Soeharto case was to bring him to court.

"People will accept whatever the court's decision is, but the most important thing is to put him on trial -- he (must) respect the due process of law."

Hendarman should regard his predecessor's statement as merely "post-power syndrome", Donny said.

"Based on his experience as head of the anticorruption investigation team, he has two things Abdul Rahman Saleh did not have -- courage and a closeness with the working mechanism at the AGO as a career attorney.

"(This experience and knowledge) allows him to effectively coordinate all levels of prosecution."

Imparsial member Bhatara Ibnu Reza said bringing Soeharto to court would also provide the former president an opportunity to prove his innocence.

"The country needs courageous prosecutors as they are actually representing the people.

"Hendarman Supandji, as the top prosecutor in the country, should have the courage to dismiss the order to stop investigations into Soeharto's (conduct)," he added.

Executive director of Imparsial Rusdi Marpaung said Soeharto's corruption cases were only the tip of the iceberg.

He said there were many human rights violations cases which had occurred during Soeharto's 32 years in power.

"Soeharto's corruption cases and human rights violation cases are two sides of the same coin," Rusdi said.

"If Hendarman can open the corruption cases, everything else will be disclosed -- including the flow of funds for military operations and other crimes against humanity." (02)

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