Gunanto Suryono: "I will now play hardball"

THE bribery case involving Probosutedjo led the Supreme Court into making a few surprise moves. Soon, the court will investigate the wealth of its employees, including its judges. “It’s time to do it,” said Supreme Court Deputy Chief Justice for Oversight, Gunanto Suryono. “Otherwise, the Supreme Court will become even more chaotic,” said the Yogyakarta-born Gunanto, who was once Secretary-General in the Supreme Court. The following are excerpts of an interview with Tempo reporters, Maria Hasugian and Abdul Manan last Tuesday.
What is the investigation status on the judges involved in the Probosutedjo bribery case?
The first-tier court has been investigated last Monday. The judges who relocated are being recalled. We are investigating the procedure, whether they were approached or not, and so forth.
How long will the investigation take?
I don’t know. When it’s completed, I will report it to the Chief Justice, then to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK). I have signed the documents. The judge who will investigate this has been appointed.
What is different about the Supreme Court’s investigation from that of the KPK’s?
Has the KPK investigated the PN? Not yet. Before the KPK was involved, we were already there.
If these results were taken to the KPK, who has the authority to verify them?
Please find a second opinion if our investigation is not satisfactory.
The Judicial Commission will recommend to the Supreme Court. Would the recommendation be different from that of internal oversight?
We met around the table–so how should it be? We go this way, they go their own way. Everything will all be based on facts.
The Judicial Commission recommended that the bank accounts of employees and the judges in the Probosutedjo case be investigated. What is the stance of the Supreme Court?
That would be good. I will do that too. I will start to play hardball. We can’t just stay out. The principles of the law on corruption provide for contradictory evidence. It should not be the investigator who bears the burden of proof, but the accused who claimed I got money from some place. That is why I used and agreed with the Supreme Court Chief Justice. A concept on investigating wealth, including house ownership, has been formulated. We must post bans. The Supreme Court could end up in shambles.
Did this policy come about because of the Probosutedjo case?
Yes, as a trigger.
How did the idea of investigating wealth first come up?
I had spoken at a leadership forum. “What to do now,” said the Chief Justice.
When will this begin?
It’s in process now. I asked Pak Syahrul to make a blueprint. Maybe in a short time. We can’t afford to be slow at this stage.
During a national work meeting in Bali, you submitted an oversight process with a new pattern. What is this?
The new pattern will feature a comprehensive system of oversight. First, oversight that sticks. Since my days as secretary-general I had already practiced oversight even on my own superiors. But it didn’t stick. Secondly, with special reference to case folders, we should make layers of oversight. First, starting from the person who types the decision. That should be supervised by the committee that will replace the old one. This committee will be supervised by ‘askor.’ So everyone will come, all responsibilities are done. This became effective on October 1.
How does it differ from previous oversights?
Those previous ones were simple. Now, everyone takes part.
What cases have they handled?
Actually, quite a few, but they were never publicized. So it looks like we’re always sleeping.
Has anyone ever been fired?
Sudi Achmad was fired. He was once dismissed but appealed to the State Complaints Agency. This went on for years with no results from the court. There are eight or 10 similar. We all have the right to dismiss people, but they also have a right to appeal. Still, the Employees Association had no decision for it. Yet, there is a clause that says if after six months no decision is forthcoming, we will send a letter saying that this person has been fired. That is why our decision has legal validity. After that we will send it directly to the state salaries department, and ask them to stop the salaries of the respective person.
Is that what you will do?
Exactly. All of those 10 people will get the same treatment.
How many judges have been penalized?
I don’t remember.
What are your priorities for the future?
First, the oversight system for employees. Right now it only functions like a broom. That broom must be clean. Second, there must be more judges from the higher court. Right now the proportion is 6:4. Six from the Religious Court, four from the public. I want more from the regions.
What are the duties of judges in the higher court?
The additional high court judges are for the investigative team and the oversight people. Today they have an assistant in oversight and training. Later, this will be the core of the oversight committee, led by an echelon I. Unfortunately, nothing like that exists, because it depended on the final report from the State Secretariat.
What is the authority of this body?
Broader and more complicated. One of the tasks would of course be to monitor the environs of the four justice systems. Today, if a complaint is submitted in March, and it is not done, it’s because we are short of personnel. It’s a bit chaotic down there. When this body is formed, there will be oversight for four areas, and division of tasks. Hopefully intensive activities will bring intensive diagnosis and a chance to study the issues.
How about the division of tasks with the junior justice in charge of oversight?
People often make the mistake that the junior justice for oversight is not a direct or operational function. The operational area is an area of oversight, and this is where it is determined whether a team is needed or whether the High Court would be enough. This can be worked to the fullest if the budget allows it. In fact, talk about funds, there has been progress on the financial front. Before it was Rp1.4 trillion, now it’s become Rp1.9 trillion. But it’s still not in the same league as the police, who get Rp13 trillion and the Attorney General’s Office, Rp3.9 trillion.
TEMPO, NOVEMBER 07, 2005-009/P. 46 Heading Law

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