Sunday, June 24, 2007

Constitutional Court considers rights court law

Wednesday, June 06, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Constitutional Court is examining the 2000 Human Rights Court Law, as requested by a former unit commander of the Army's Special Forces (Kopasus) convicted of involvement in the forced disappearances of activists in 1997 and 1998.

Bambang Kristiono, who served 20 months in prison and was dishonorably discharged for kidnapping activists, claims article 43 of the law concerning the ad hoc human rights tribunal by the House of Representatives contradicts the 1945 Constitution.

Bambang, who commanded infamous "Team Mawar", asked the court to rule that article 43 had no binding power as it infringed on his rights as stipulated in articles 24, 27 and 28 of the 1945 Constitution.

Bambang's lawyer, M. Mahendradatta, said an attempt from the House of Representatives on Feb. 27, 2007, to set up a special committee for forced disappearances was a form of political intervention in the criminal justice system which threatened the legal protection and rights of all citizens.

"Our target is to prevent any political intervention in criminal cases. My client is ready to be tried again as long as the trial is held in the context of a free and independent judicial power," Mahendradatta told reporters after the hearing.

He said the House of Representatives, as a political institution, should not interfere with law enforcement.

Judge H.A.S. Natabaya said it was unclear as to whether article 43 had infringed on the constitutional rights of the plaintiff.

"Article 43 relates to the formulation of the ad hoc committee on the forced disappearances of 1997-1998... it has nothing to do with the constitutional rights of a citizen," Natabaya said.

"It seems that the plaintiff is the one with the issue. The court does not examine people's anxiety... it only examines whether a citizen's constitutional rights have been harmed by law."

However, Judge Natabaya said the plaintiff's team of lawyers argue that article 43 infringed their client's rights, such as the nebis in idem principle, which states a person cannot be tried a second time for the same crime.

Judge Laica Marzuki advised the team of lawyers to revise the application with a clearer explanation of how the plaintiff's constitutional rights had been infringed upon.

Answering the judges' claims that the application was predominantly based on speculation, Mahendradatta told the court the team of lawyers had obtained documents explaining that Bambang Kristiono was to be summoned by the House of Representatives's special committee. The team said it could not attach the document to the application as it was classified information.

The court has allowed the team of lawyers to submit a revision of their application within 14 days. (02)

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