Law: Justice in the Eyes of the Average Joe?

This is a topic I have discussed in twitter. But I shall discuss it again here. It is about the law, justice, and how the public perceive it. 

Just recently, I received a Blackberry Broadcast message stating how funny Indonesian law is. How so many corruptors are either not proven guilty or sentenced very low, while so many small cases are easily verdicted “guilty” and punished, such as the kid who was sentenced for three years of prison.

Saying that corruptors tend to be not proven guilty, while poor criminal defendants are easily convicted, seems like a juicy target for blaming our judicial system. In the Law Essay Competition in Fakultas Hukum UGM, most highschool kids brought the same problem also. But just like any other claims of this so called “tendency”, neither claims are substantiated.

Then yesterday (or was it two days ago?) I saw Kompas, bringing the same idea. They made a table of comparison on ten corruption cases (one guilty verdict with one point something year jail sentence, and the rest of them were acquitted), versus ten petty crime cases (sandal thief, three chocolate fruits thief etc, and how they were all given a guilty verdict).

I hate the way the media are enforcing these riddiculous perspectives of justice. Especially the kid who stole a policeman’s sandals was NOT even sentenced to any punishment, but simply was verdicted “guilty” because –well- he WAS guilty.

How a judge decides upon a criminal case
I would like to start by explaining how such manner of comparisson is simply shallow. Firstly, please know that the standard of proof in a criminal court is “terbukti sah dan meyakinkan“, according to the Criminal Procedural Code (KUHAP). This is furtherly interpreted that there must be at least two evidences (unus testis nullus testis) to support the conviction, which they must be legally accepted as evidence (in KUHAP: witness testimonial, written evidence including documents, expert witness, judge conclusion, defendant’s confessions or testimonials).

The reason why I had to explain that is to highlight that a judge can not use prejudice and assumptions as evidence to befall a guilty verdict upon a criminal defendant. Especially, especially in a criminal trial. And we will always remember that we have the good old principles of presumption of innocense. It is the onus of the prosecutor to prove beyond reasonable doubt, or here its “terbukti secara sah dan meyakinkan”, and if they fail, the prejudice is that the defendant is innocent.

These principles and rules were made as standard of modern criminal law, because we were sick of the days where tyrant kings put people in jail for unproven accusations and for crimes which were not even regulated yet. This is why then for the sake of justice by upholding another principle saying “he whom claims must prove it”, we apply all these rules.

A person’s liberty, or sometimes life, is at stake. We must uphold justice at its highest esteem. We want to be the right punishing the wrong, not the strong punishing the weak we do not like.

Petty Puny Criminal Cases vs Corruption cases
If one person stole a chicken, and got caughted red handed with that chicken. It can not be any more obvious. That sweet and poor old granny whom stole three pieces of cocoa? She was caught red handed, and she confessed. It is just that simple. All you need is to find witnesses whom saw the event, and bring them to court. I do not know how to make this simpler, but its just THAT easy to prove those kind of cases.

But does anyone have any idea what a corruption case is like? Its not a Senior Official running through the money vault, snatching a bag of gold, then run and cackle like mad (though that would be funny).

This is one of the methods of corruption: 
A governor orders a staff to buy 100 computers for the office, and gives a budget of Rp. 5 Million/unit. This staff goes to a dealer whom pamflet shows Rp 5 million/computer unit, but manages to get a good bargain of Rp. 4 million/unit because he is buying a whole lot at the same time. 

He then asks the dealer to give an empty receipt, writing Rp. 5 million/unit x 100 = Rp. 500 Million on it. He gives the dealer an extra Rp 10 Million to shut up. This staff comes back to the office with 100 units of computers, as ordered, with a receipt stating that he used up all the money for those computers, which its pamphlets show exactly the same price as stated on the receipt. Plus, he got Rp.90 Million richer. How would one tell that he lied, when all evidence and collaborators are all working together?

This is a very simple case which is still actually traceable. A non professional corruptor, I must say. You can check any other cases where money simply disappears but God knows where because every legal document is simply present. It is so, so, so bloody hard to get hard evidence.

Still want to compare with a chicken thief?

Pragmatic purposes
You also must understand that the suspect/defendant’s cooperation with the authorities would be very essential for corruption cases. Given the complexity in proving the case, one part of the collaborators cooperating with the investigators would make everything so much easier. By far, seriously.

So sometimes, the biggest priority is to lure them with sentence reductions so that at least all the collaborators can be revealed and state funds are to be recovered as much as possible while to the furthest extent breaking the rings of corruption.

Simply being cooperative in any criminal case would be a consideration to lower your sentence. Imagine being cooperative in an act that would help reveal a ring of high level corruptors. That would definitely lower your sentence.

It is just nonsensical to judge that the law tends to protect the rich and corrupt instead of the poor. Maybe our legal system is not that clean, perhaps. But these so called “tendencies” are not among the evidences that could sustain that allegation.

The true merits that we should see in these cases are how the rule of law applies to all, equally. Its just that the facts in some cases are easier to be found than the others. In fact, sentences for corruption related crime not only has a significantly higher maximum punishment (life sentence or death penalty, in comparison to maximum of 9 years prison for thievery with violence, 7 years for thievery with other special circumstances, 5 years for normal thievery, 3 months for light thievery -according to KUHP/Indonesian Criminal Code). Plus, corruption cases has a MINIMUM punishment which is 1 year imprisonment (if proven). Normal crimes dont have this. PLUS, they could be fined (in addition to the imprisonment and excluding the amount of state funds they must return) by at least hundreds of millions of rupiahs up to billions of rupiahs.

This is the light of justice one must see from the level of law.

As for law enforcement, like I said I can not claim that we are THAT clean. But for those who wish to highlight a claim that we are not clean, please give us better evidence.