dimanche 24 février 2008

"Mafia peradilan"

Legal Vultures Feast in Indonesia

DISCUSSING the frequently bewildering outcomes of their judicial system, Indonesians blithely refer to the "court mafia", those involved in the organised practice of auctioning off justice to the highest bidder.

The most senior judge in the land, Constitutional Court chief Jimly Asshiddiqie, goes further, likening participants in the legal system to vultures — feeding on the unfortunates who fall into their clutches.

"Judicial corruption is one of our big problems," he said in an unreported briefing of foreign diplomats and journalists last month. "In the country there is known to be a judicial mafia — in that system everyone 'squeezes'."

First the police "squeeze" those they arrest, demanding bribes, Judge Asshiddiqie said. "Then prosecutors squeeze the criminal.
"When he gets to court, the first man to squeeze is the registrar. And when he comes to the judges, they again squeeze the criminal, but they get only the bones."

Some of those bones belong to sweet-faced Ary, an ambitious 22-year-old who occasionally dropped by our home to practise English, hoping to find a cruise ship job.

Six months ago Ary was stopped outside a Jakarta cafe after buying a small packet of marijuana. Five police pounced, punching and kicking.
"First they asked me if I had anything valuable in my home," Ary said. "I asked why they did not arrest the dealer — he was two steps away."
One policeman spat in his face, yelling: "You are not human any more. You are an animal. You have no rights any more as a criminal."

At the police station the beatings continued, with police demanding names of others to arrest. "They were just hitting and hitting, saying they would charge me as a dealer."
Ary was stripped and forced to stand in a corner for hours. "Every time another policeman came by they would say 'new boy', and hit or kick me."

When Ary's mother arrived, police pointed to her bruised and bloodied son. If she paid $1000 the beatings would stop, the arresting officer said.
She agreed, although it amounted to all her savings. For another $10,000 he could be released, but she had no access to that sort of cash. The family had run a clothing business from their home, but lost everything in floods five years ago.

Ary was taken to a tiny cell, less than three metres square, along with 13 other prisoners. Several had also been caught in drugs stings, by police working in concert with dealers.
One motorbike rider said a prostitute neighbour had paid him $3 to pick up some putah (low-grade heroin). Police whipped him with electrical cable until he confessed to dealing.
In the next 50 days, police delayed filing charges against Ary, while they haggled with his mother. "They said a dealer can pay with the rest of his life," said Ary. "So you better pay."

About $500 was paid to reduce the amount of marijuana seized and ensure Ary was charged as a user, but he faced continual threats of years in jail.

One policeman said it would have been easier and cheaper if Ary had assaulted, even killed, someone. The new police chief is an anti-drugs crusader, but for the court mafia this represents a business opportunity, the chance to ask for bigger bribes with the threat of long sentences. Police finally reduced their demands to $5000, but could not guarantee Ary's charges would be dropped. The family began negotiating with the next people in the legal chain, the prosecutors.
"The prosecutors open this book in front of me," Ary said. "They said the punishment would be five years."

After selling belongings and borrowing from friends, Ary's mother gave $2000 for the prosecutors to reduce their sentence request to nine months.

Then she had to pay a $200 "appointment fee" to meet the judge. She handed over another $1000 and he complained the family had asked too many people to help so he would have to share it.

In a brief hearing, Ary received a nine-month sentence and was sent to Jakarta's Cipinang Prison. Inside, he had to fight for status in a harsh hierarchy. Here, too, everything came at a price. A visitor meant he had to pay $3 to leave his cell, a less crowded cell costs — $80 will buy a private room — and prisoners need $30 a month for food as the official rations are inedible.
Transvestites wander from cell to cell, offering themselves for a few dollars. Drugs and alcohol are freely available, said Ary, supplied by the guards.

Mysteriously, another $500 to prison officials saw Ary released three months early, but he is understandably cynical about the justice system. "Police, judges the courts, they are all the same, it's all about money," he said. "They are criminals in uniform."

Ary's name has been changed to protect him. (Source: The Age)

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