Ezra Sihite, Agus Triyono & Markus Junianto Sihaloho
Legal expert Yusril Ihza Mahendra will challenge President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s decision to cut the jail sentence of Australian drug smuggler Schapelle Corby by five years to 15 years.
Yusril said the clemency contradicted the government’s policy to be strict on graft, drug and terrorism convicts. He said he feared that the decision could set a bad precedent for the country.
Yusril, a former justice and human rights minister, said the decision to grant clemency could be annulled, and vowed to contest the decision at the State Administrative Court (PTUN).
He also argued that said the government’s authority to grant clemency, prescribed under Article 14 of the Constitution, could be challenged because it had been amended.
“Before it was amended, the president’s decision couldn’t be contested because it stated that ‘the president is entitled to give clemency, amnesty, abolition and rehabilitation,’” Yusril said.
The article now states that “the president can give clemency and rehabilitation based on the Supreme Court’s consideration.”
“The consequence of the amended article in the Constitution is that clemency is no longer fully under the president’s authority,” Yusril said.
He added this was the first time in Indonesian history that the president had granted clemency to a drug convict.
“That’s not a wise move in terms of the fight against drugs. This is the first time in Indonesian history that the president has given a drug criminal clemency or a pardon,” he said.
Aboebakar Al-Habsyi, a member of the House of Representatives’ Commission III, which oversees legal affairs, agreed that the decision called into question the government’s commitment to fighting drugs.
“I am honestly confused,” he said. “The government claims it is committed to fighting drugs by issuing a moratorium on sentence cuts for drug dealers. But the queen of marijuana has received cuts, clemency and probably also parole.”
Aboebakar, from the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS), said the government should put equality before the law because it would be discriminative to give Corby all those breaks, while imposing a moratorium on other convicts.
Bambang Soesatyo, another Commission III member, accused Justice and Human Rights Minister Amir Syamsuddin of “making up stories” when he said that several countries did not consider marijuana as a narcotic and that the sentences for the offense were usually light.
The Golkar Party politician said the minister had tried to mislead the public with such a statement to justify the clemency for Corby, who was convicted in 2005 of attempting to smuggle 4.2 kilograms of marijuana into Bali from Australia.
Andi Nurpati, a spokeswoman for Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party, said the party would respect those critical of the president’s clemency decision, but insisted that the decision was legitimate.
“Twenty years is too long,” she said. “Corruptors who steal trillions from the state don’t get 20 years, they only get two or four years.”