In responding to the recent spate of acquittals by Indonesia’s regional corruption courts, Chief Justice Mahfud echoed Han Solo from Star Wars by proclaiming that the Constitutional Court was not to blame. According to The Jakarta Post, Chief Justice Mahfud clarified that the Court’s 2006 decision finding the central Corruption Court in Jakarta unconstitutional was not an invitation to establish regional corruption courts. The chief justice described the regional corruption court judges as tending “to acquit corruptors. They think corruption is something normal.” Ultimately, he recommended that they be dissolved and a return to a centralized corruption court in Jakarta.
I admit I haven’t followed the details of all of these acquitted cases, but it’s always struck me as odd that Indonesians view the Corruption Commission’s (KPK) nearly 100% conviction rate as not only normal but good. While the KPK surely filters cases to find the strongest ones, it’s still hard to believe that it wins EVERY time. The numbers appear almost Stalinist. Indeed, some commentators have questioned whether the courts aren’t simply punishing bad judgment calls in some cases. Of course, an acquittal of a guilty defendant is nothing to praise, but it also might be time to rethink that 100% conviction rate.