ICW Calls For Change In AGO To Bolster Graft Fight

Antigraft group Indonesia Corruption Watch predictably upset Attorney General Hendarman Supandji on Tuesday by calling on President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono to name a new attorney general for his next cabinet because of what it said was Hendarman’s poor performance.

The statement was “tendentious and groundless,” Hendarman’s office said in response.

Yudhoyono, who looks set to be re-elected, would be expected to announce a new cabinet in October after he is sworn in for his second term.

Several newspapers on Tuesday quoted ICW legal researcher Febri Diansyah as saying, “ICW urges the president to discontinue Hendarman Supandji’s leadership for his failure to play a significant role in eradicating corruption inside the prosecutors’ office and to prosecute the culprits in the court mafia.”

The group also said it had compiled a report Hendarman’s ‘poor record’ during his time in office.

“Those reports are tendentious, partisan and biased,” Jasman Panjaitan, a spokesman for Hendarman, told reporters at his office. “It is only the president or the House of Representatives who can make a judgment on the attorney general’s performance on behalf of the people.”

Jasman said that eradicating corruption was not the sole job of prosecutors, who must also deal with general crimes and intelligence tasks.

“Despite the tight budget and bureaucratic restrictions, prosecutors have successfully launched the anticorruption campaign and we recovered more stolen assets than any other state agency that also combats corruption,” he said.

Hendarman, 62, said late last month that he would very likely be replaced when the new cabinet members were announced by the elected president.

Febri dismissed the criticisms from the AGO.

“Jasman’s remarks that only the president can judge the AGO’s performance is overreacting,” he said. “The AGO is a public institution in which every citizen has a share.”

Febri said that during Hendarman’s leadership, the office had been rocked by several scandals involving his staff, including a major bribery case that saw a senior AGO official sentenced to a record 20 years in jail.

The bribery case also allegedly involved two of Hendarman’s deputies, but they have never been charged.

Febri said the selection process for the next attorney general needed to be transparent, with candidates open to public review.

“The attorney general is appointed by the president, who doesn’t need public approval to do it. For such an important post, that appointment method has to be changed,” he said.

Febri said his demand that Hendarman be replaced as attorney general reflected the ICW’s official stance.

Source: The Jakarta Globe, July 15, 2009

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