News / Asia

Indonesia’s Constitutional Court Chief Arrested for Graft

FILE -  Indonesia's top judge Akil Mochtar poses for photos during a swearing-in ceremony in Jakarta. Mochtar on Indonesia's Constitutional Court has been arrested on suspicion of bribery in the country's laest high-profile graft scandal.
FILE - Indonesia's top judge Akil Mochtar poses for photos during a swearing-in ceremony in Jakarta. Mochtar on Indonesia's Constitutional Court has been arrested on suspicion of bribery in the country's laest high-profile graft scandal.
TEXT SIZE - +
Kate Lamb
— In a country beleaguered by weekly graft scandals, Indonesia’s Constitutional Court is known as one of the country’s cleanest institutions. That is why the arrest of Constitutional Court chief Akil Mochtar in a sting operation has been met with shock in the capital Jakarta.
 
The Constitutional Court chief was arrested Wednesday night, together with a politician, local regent and two businessmen.
 
Investigators said they arrested the high-profile judge on bribery charges and also seized $261,000 in cash from his house as evidence.
 
The funds are believed to be bribe money paid to the judge in return for a favorable ruling in a lawsuit on a regional election, currently being tried at the court.
 
Analysts say the arrest is a blow for the Indonesian judiciary, and reveals just how high up the problem of corruption runs. 
 
“According to the various surveys, by say, Transparency International, they put the Indonesian judiciary as the most corrupt. The most corrupt institutions are the parliament and then the judiciary, politicians and judges, so this is the reality we have in the Indonesian judiciary," said Danang Widoyoko, with Indonesia Corruption Watch. "And this is not a new phenomenon."
 
Despite the corruption in the judiciary, the Constitutional Court is seen as one of the cleanest institutions, in part because it is relatively new.
 
The court was established in 2003 and in its early days established a new culture of transparency.
 
But Widoyoko says it was only a matter of time for judges, chosen from the legislative, executive and judicial branches, would sully the new court.
 
Indonesia’s President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who rarely comments on corruption cases, weighed in Thursday expressing his shock and disappointment.
 
Judicial corruption, he said, could undermine the nation’s democratic system.
 
Mochtar was arrested by the KPK, Indonesia’s Corruption Eradication Commission.
 
The anti-corruption body has become a formidable force in a country riddled with corruption, this year rattling the Indonesian parliament with a swathe of high profile arrests of politicians.
 
Since it was first established in 2003, the KPK has had a 100 percent conviction rate.
 
Given his probable conviction, Mochtar has been urged to immediately step down from his position.
 
The ICW’s Danang Widoyoko said that even though the arrest is a blow to the Indonesian judiciary, and the Constitutional Court, also known as MK, it’s also a big win for the anti-corruption body. 

“Now of course, catching the chief of the Constitutional Court, it can be considered as progress for the KPK. But for the judiciary institution it is decreasing because MK is considered as a good institution. Now even the chief of the MK can be arrested in a corruption case,” he said.
 
Anti-graft group Transparency International ranks Indonesia 118 out of 176 countries in terms of its comparative rates of corruption.

You May Like

Multimedia Relatives of South Korean Ferry Victims Fire at Authorities

46 people are confirmed dead, but some 250 remain trapped inside sunken ferry More

War Legacy Haunts Vietnam, US Relations

$84 million project aims to clean up soil contaminated by Agent Orange More

Wikipedia Proves Useful for Tracking Flu

Technique gave better results than Center for Disease Control (CDC) and Google’s Flu Trends More

Featured Videos

Your JavaScript is turned off or you have an old version of Adobe's Flash Player. Get the latest Flash player.
Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politicsi
X
Michael Eckels
April 19, 2014
There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Ukraine, Russia, United in Faith, Divided in Politics

There is a strong historical religious connection between Russia and Ukraine. But what role is religion playing in the current conflict? In the run-up to Easter, Michael Eckels in Moscow reports for VOA.
Video

Video Face of American Farmer is Changing

The average American farmer is now 58 years old, and farmers 65 and older are the fastest growing segment of the population. It’s a troubling trend signaling big changes ahead for American agriculture as aging farmers retire. Reporter Mike Osborne says a new report from the U.S. Census Bureau is suggesting what some of those changes might look like... and why they might not be so troubling.
Video

Video Donetsk Governor: Ukraine Military Assault 'Delicate But Necessary'

Around a dozen state buildings in eastern Ukraine remain in the hands of pro-Russian protesters who are demanding a referendum on self-rule. The governor of the whole Donetsk region is among those forced out by the protesters. He spoke to VOA's Henry Ridgwell from his temporary new office in Donetsk city.
Video

Video Drones May Soon Send Data From High Seas

Drones are usually associated with unmanned flying vehicles, but autonomous watercraft are also becoming useful tools for jobs ranging from scientific exploration to law enforcement to searching for a missing airliner in the Indian Ocean. VOA’s George Putic reports on sea-faring drones.
Video

Video New Earth-Size Planet Found

Not too big, not too small. Not too hot, not too cold. A newly discovered planet looks just right for life as we know it, according to an international group of astronomers. VOA’s Steve Baragona has more.
Video

Video Copts in Diaspora Worry About Future in Egypt

Around 10 percent of Egypt’s population belong to the Coptic faith, making them the largest Christian minority in the Middle East. But they have become targets of violence since the revolution three years ago. With elections scheduled for May and the struggle between the Egyptian military and Islamists continuing, many Copts abroad are deeply worried about the future of their ancient church. VOA religion correspondent Jerome Socolovsky visited a Coptic church outside Washington DC.
Video

Video Critics Say Venezuelan Protests Test Limits of Military's Support

During the two months of deadly anti-government protests that have rocked the oil-rich nation of Venezuela, President Nicolas Maduro has accused the opposition of trying to initiate a coup. Though a small number of military officers have been arrested for allegedly plotting against the government, VOA’s Brian Padden reports the leadership of the armed forces continues to support the president, at least for now.
Video

Video More Millenials Unplug to Embrace Board Games

A big new trend in the U.S. toy industry has more consumers switching off their high-tech gadgets to play with classic toys, like board games. This is especially true among the so-called millenial generation - those born in the 1980's and 90's. Elizabeth Lee has more from an unusual café in Los Angeles, where the new trend is popular and business is booming.
Video

Video Google Buys Drone Company

In its latest purchase of high-tech companies, Google has acquired a manufacturer of solar-powered drones that can stay in the air almost indefinitely, relaying broadband Internet connection to remote areas. It is seen as yet another step in the U.S. based Web giant’s bid to bring Internet to the whole world. VOA’s George Putic reports.
AppleAndroid