Crackdown Launched against Corrupt Prosecutors

JAKARTA ~ Four out of five prosecutors in Indonesia are open to corruption, the country’s new attorney general admitted this week as he vowed to root out the wrongdoers.

Hendarman Supanji said his wide-ranging campaign against corruption would target state prosecutor’s offices because they had a history of graft.

Prosecutors have reportedly taken bribes from some suspects in return for compiling weak criminal cases against them or recommending lenient punishment once cases reach court.

“I see that law enforcement can only succeed if the law enforcers themselves are clean,” Supanji said in an interview with Tempo newsweekly.

“It is true that there is a problem within the prosecutor’s office regarding integrity and cleanliness, so there needs to be firm punishment for those found guilty and rewards for those who perform their functions as prosecutors.”

Supanji, a noted anti-graft campaigner, was appointed to the post in a cabinet reshuffle this month in what was seen as a sign that President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono was fulfilling a promise to crack down on corruption.

He said the battle against graft – which flourished under former president Suharto’s three-decade authoritarian rule – was being hindered by the “lack of integrity” among prosecutors.

Supanji said he would scrutinize their past work and hone in on suspicious prosecutors to determine if their unprofessionalism was down to incompetence or motivated by a “certain particular interest.”

“I (already) see that among prosecutors, about 80 percent lack integrity and therefore I will focus my efforts to correct this,” Supanji said.

A career prosecutor himself, he was appointed in 2005 to spearhead the president’s anti-corruption coordination team.

Supanji also told Tempo his office would continue to pursue recent unsolved high-profile cases, including the poisoning murder of leading rights activist Munir Said Thalib.

The police probe into his 2004 death on a Garuda flight was reopened this year after claims by his widow and rights groups of a cover-up in the original inquiry.

Supanji also vowed to continue the hunt for bankers who allegedly siphoned off state funds during the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

He said last week that he would seek the extradition of 15 executives from Singapore allegedly hiding millions of dollars of state money.

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