Heru Andriyanto & Markus Junianto Sihaloho
A sensational murder case that combined high-wire politics, sex and dark rumblings of conspiracy ended on Thursday in the South Jakarta District Court with verdicts that satisfied no one.
Former antigraft chief Antasari Azhar was found guilty and sentenced to 18 years in prison, frustrating prosecutors who wanted to put their former colleague to death. All sides said they would appeal.
Antasari, who said repeatedly that he had been framed for the murder of businessmen Nasrudin Zulkarnaen, told the court he respected the verdict. Then, raising his voice, he said: “But allow me, Your Honor, to continue my quest for ultimate truth and justice: I will appeal.”
Three co-defendants were also found guilty in earlier sessions in separate courtrooms. Wiliardi Wizar, a police officer accused of recruiting the five men who carried out the mafia-style killing on March 14, 2009, was sentenced to 12 years. Media magnate Sigid Haryo Wibisono was sentenced to 15 years as the alleged financier of the conspiracy. Businessman Jerry Hermawan Lo was given five years as a middleman.
Wiliardi and Sigid, who both faced possible death sentences, said they would appeal. Jerry said he was undecided.
“For the National Police, the verdict proved that we didn’t fabricate anything,” said Comr. Gen. Ito Sumardi, chief detective.
Outside the court, Antasari’s sister Asmulyawati Azhar became hysterical as she protested the verdict, collapsing and screaming at a policewoman. “No! I don’t need help from you! You and your fellow officers are part of this game!”
Family members of the victim, meanwhile, called the judges “soft,” and legal experts questioned Antasari’s sentence because the five convicted lower-level accomplices received similar terms in an earlier trial. Determined to see Antasari face the firing squad, prosecutors pledged to challenge the verdict.
The defendant “has been proven convincingly guilty of ordering a premeditated murder together with Sigid Haryo Wibisono and Wiliardi Wizar,” said presiding Judge Herri Swantoro. “The compelling factors for his sentence are that his crime has caused wives and children to lose their husband and father and that the defendant is a law enforcer.”
Andi Syamsudin, younger brother of Nasrudin, said he was deeply disappointed. “Doubtful judges made a soft verdict. They should have decided without any doubts,” he said. “If they think Antasari was not guilty, release him. Otherwise punish him as severely as possible. For us, 18 years is nowhere near our expectations.”
Prosecutors had argued that the murder came about because of a sexual relationship between Antasari and golf caddie Rani Juliani, who was Nasrudin’s third wife. They said Nasrudin tried to blackmail Antasari over an encounter at a hotel room, and murder was the response.
Antasari’s lawyers maintained that prosecutors proved nothing, saying their case was based on allegations and assertions, not evidence. Antasari said police and prosecutors were trying to persecuting him because of his record of investigating corruption in the highest places.
“Prosecutors do not agree with the verdict. The jail term was not the maximum penalty,” said AGO spokesman Didiek Darmanto, adding that his office would study the 179-page verdict in search for avenues of appeal.
Antasari’s sentence was the same as that given to Daniel Daen Sabon, who was convicted in a Tangerang court in December of firing the deadly shots at Nasrudin from the back of a motorcycle. That court also sentenced four other men to 17 years in prison for assisting Daniel.
“Antasari should get at least 20 years because he is the convicted mastermind,” said Eddy Hiariej, a criminal law expert with Gadjah Mada University. “The verdict leaves no choice for prosecutors but to appeal.”
As the news spread, a lawyer for one of the five convicts in Tangerang said the verdict would strengthen his client’s hand.
“We are taking into consideration today’s verdict in our appeal to be prepared soon,” said Minola Sebayang, who represents Fransiskus Tadon Kerans. “Mathematically, it is wrong that the mastermind gets a similar sentence as the accomplice.”
The small courthouse was flooded with visitors and journalists throughout the long proceedings. At least five pickpockets were caught stealing cellphones had to be rescued by police from angry reporters.