Interesting article from Simon Butt in the latest special issue of Inside Indonesia on corruption. I can’t help thinking that his main concluding point remains speculative and a hypothesis more than a conclusion:
Perhaps, though, there is just too much emphasis on the conviction rate in criticisms of the regional Tipikor courts. Acquittals are not always a bad thing. As in many other countries, defendants in Indonesia are supposed to enjoy the presumption of innocence. The main point of holding a trial is to determine whether enough evidence exists to convict. Evidence is often hard to come by in corruption cases. Because of the nature of the crime, perpetrators will go to great lengths to cover their tracks. It may well be that regional Tipikor courts are finding genuine fault with the cases being presented by prosecutors and are unable, in good conscience, to convict.
This could be true but unfortunately the article doesn’t provide any evidence that this hypothesis should be taken seriously as an explanation of acquittals in the new regional corruption courts. I’ve not been looking systematically at these courts but my reading of the news in Central Java suggests it has less to do with “genuine fault” and more to do with compromised judges and/or prosecutors. Indeed, this is the view of the Judicial Commission as I noted in an earlier post–see here.
You can read the Inside Indonesia article here.