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Judge resigns after corruption ruling quashed JAKARTA - An Indonesian judge said last night he would quit in protest after a court overturned a draft ruling against parliamentary speaker and presidential hopeful Akbar Tandjung. The Supreme Court on Thursday overturned a lower court ruling that Tandjung was guilty in a case involving about EUR 3,3 million in funds from state food agency Bulog.
The decision means Tandjung, 58, is free to press for his Golkar party's nomination as a candidate in this year's presidential election in which he is seen as the strongest contender along with incumbent President Megawati Sukarnoputri. Judge Amiruddin Zakaria expressed dismay over Thursday's decision. Zakaria was chief judge at the central Jakarta district court that first found Tandjung guilty of graft in 2002. "I still have faith that Akbar is guilty, based on our decision," Zakaria, who now has a different judicial post, said.
The Supreme Court's decision was a critical one for Indonesian politics. It should help Tandjung stay leader of the Golkar party once the political vehicle of ousted president Suharto and still the nation's second-largest party and boost his chances of becoming a presidential candidate. Zakaria said while he respected the authority of the Supreme Court: "I am disappointed. I'm really, really disappointed." The Supreme Court said Tandjung, who consistently maintained he was innocent, was only implementing his duty as a minister as ordered by then president B J Habibie.
One of the five Supreme Court justices dissented from the decision. "At a time when the country was sinking in crisis, the actions of the defendant truly violated the people's sense of justice," judge Abdurrahman Saleh said in his comments, delivered in the courtroom on Thursday evening after the majority opinion. Smita Notosusanto, executive director of the Centre for Electoral Reform, said she believed Tandjung would definitely be Golkar's candidate, despite such formidable competitors for its nomination as ex-military chief Wiranto.
She said the graft case was unlikely to be an issue in the countryside, where the majority of Indonesia's 210 million people live. "In rural areas they don't pay too much attention to this. If it doesn't affect their lives, they don't really care," she said. Notosusanto, speaking later at a panel discussion, suggested that in the end Tandjung's Golkar and the party of incumbent Megawati would join hands to win. "With the verdict of the Supreme Court, the road is quite smooth for them to come together."
The election has two stages, a ballot in July that could see candidates from up to half a dozen parties and in which no candidate is likely to get the required majority, and then a run-off in September between the top two vote-winners. Megawati's PDI-P would be happy to have Tandjung as Golkar's candidate, increasing chances of a pairing between the two, and Tandjung is willing to take second spot, Notosusanto said.
Alan Wall, project manager for the International Foundation for Election Systems in Indonesia, which has done extensive polling leading up to the elections, said surveys showed little to separate PDI-P and Golkar. "Reputable polls have them neck and neck. But far too many people are still undecided," he told the panel discussion.



Posted in Corruption @ 14 February 2004 00:02 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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