KPK: Bribe to Control Beef Imports
JAKARTA, KOMPAS — The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) suspects that the bribe given by businessman Basuki Hariman to inactive constitutional court judge Patrialis Akbar was motivated by the desire to control beef imports. Basuki is said to be part of a beef import cartel which sells beef at a high price.
KPK deputy chairman Laode M Syarif said on Tuesday (31/1/2017) in Jakarta that the indications suggesting that Basuki was part of a beef import cartel emerged from the discovery of 28 ministry and directorate general stamps in his office. Investigators also found stamps resembling those of international organizations', including halal labels from beef exporting countries. Those stamps have now been confiscated by the KPK.
When asked for confirmation about the discovery of the stamps, Basuki claimed he know nothing about it. He also refused to respond when challenged about the giving of money to Patrialis.
Basuki is alleged to have given bribe to Patrialis worth US$20,000 (Rp 267 million) and Singaporean $200,000 (Rp 1.9 billion) to influence a judicial review ruling on the law on animal husbandry and animal health which was being carried out by the Constitutional Court. The KPK has named four suspects in the case, namely Patrialis, Basuki, Kamaludin (intermediary) and Fenny (Basuki's employee).
According to Laode, it is suspected that Basuki's move of bribing Patrialis was done so that the zone-based system for beef imports would no longer be allowed. Therefore, Perum Bulog would no longer be able to import beef from countries that are not 100 percent free from foot and mouth disease.
"They, Basuki's people, want to monopolize (beef imports). The imports done by Bulog poses a competition for them and so they are not able to sell at a higher price. That is why they asked for (a judicial review (ruling) so that Bulog will not be allowed to import from countries that are not 100 percent clean (from foot and mouth disease)," Laode said.
Meanwhile, the Constitutional Court as of this moment has not yet recommended for Patrialis to be removed from his position even though he has already asked to resign from his position as a constitutional court judge. The court had planned to send the recommendation about Patrialis' removal to President Joko Widodo after the Constitutional Court honorary council has finished working.
"The ruling of the honorary council will be the basis of the Constitutional Court in sending a recommendation letter on the removal of Patrialis Akbar. After that, we will send a letter to ask the President to fill the vacant judge position left by Patrialis," he said.
Supreme Court former chief justice Bagir Manan voiced a similar opinion. "Even though Patrialis has resigned, the Constitutional Court honorary council is needed to determine the status of his removal, whether he is stepping down with honor or with dishonor instead," Bagir said. This status will have an effect on the financial rights of Patrialis when he no longer a judge, such as pension funds and other things.
Up to this moment, the Constitutional Court honorary council has not been formed because its members are not yet complete. The court is still waiting for an answer from the Judicial Commission (KY) related to who will be sent as an honorary panel member.
The constitutional court itself has named four honorary council members. They are Anwar Usman (constitutional court deputy chief), Bagir Manan, Achmad Sodiki (former constitutional court judge) and Said As'ad Ali (community leader). Another member is from the Judicial Commission.
Separately, Coordinating Politics, Law and Security Minister Wiranto said when interviewed at Istana Bogor, that the repeated cases of corruption within the Constitutional Court indicate a problem in the selection process. In October 2013, the KPK also arrested Akil Mochtar, the Constitutional Court chief justice at the time. The government has vowed to improve the selection process for Constitutional Court judges, particularly on the matters of transparency and openness.
He said the Constitutional Court must be filled with figures with competence and integrity. This needs to be realized given the importance of the court's position in the national legal structure, whose rulings are final and binding.
"The people must know who sits there and how their background is. Therefore, the person cannot just come out of nowhere," he said.