August 23, 2015
Indonesian authorities have shut down an investigation into allegations that judges asked for bribes in exchange for more lenient sentences for executed Bali nine pair Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan without interviewing the judges and a key lawyer involved in the case.
Muhammad Rifan, one of the men’sformer lawyers, made the sensational allegations that the judges asked for more than $130,000 for the drug smugglers to be given a prison term of less than 20 years during their original trial.
As revealed by Fairfax Media, Mr Rifan alleged the deal fell through after the judges presiding over the hearings in Denpasar District Court asked for more money because they were under pressure from the Indonesian Supreme Court and Attorney-General’s Department to apply the death penalty.
After starting and then abandoning its investigation before Sukumaran and Chan were executed by firing squad, the judicial commission – which oversees the probity of Indonesian judges – re-commenced the probe after their deaths.
“The report on the alleged breach of the code of ethics is closed because the judicial commission has not got sufficient evidence,” said Imam Anshori Saleh, a member of the commission.
“Rifan’s testimony was heard but he refused for it to be [officially] put in the interrogation report,” he said.
“Meanwhile, Peter [Johnson’s] lawyers have been summoned twice but refused to meet with us and respond.”
Without the lawyers’ evidence, the judicial commission won’t interview the judges or other witnesses.
Mr Johnson, an Australian, is a prominent lawyer in Bali and was Mr Rifan’s boss at the Austrindo law firm which represented most of the members of the Bali nine heroin smuggling ring in their original trials in 2005 and 2006.
Mr Johnson, who changed the name of the firm to Vidhi Law Office this year and has fallen out with Mr Rifan, declined to comment on Sunday when asked via text message about his refusal to co-operate with the inquiry.
Mr Rifan told Fairfax Media the investigation was now pointless, as Sukumaran and Chan were dead.
But the men’s lead lawyer, Todung Mulya Lubis, said the end of the investigation was premature and “wrong”.
“They have not done their job. They are supposed to investigate properly and uphold the integrity of the judiciary,” he said, adding he had not been informed of the probe finishing.
The Australians in the Bali nine syndicate were arrested after 8.3 kilos of heroin were detected by Indonesian authorities at Denpasar airport on April 17, 2005.
After a series of trials and appeals, only Chan and Sukumaran were left facing the death penalty. Both supplied written statements to the judicial commission about the alleged bribery before they were killed.
Mr Rifan also provided a statement after first alluding to the bribery in a dramatic press conference outside Kerobokan prison in February this year, saying there had been “interference” in the case.
Just days before the men were executed on April 29, he finally outlined his account of the alleged bribery.
“It was more than 1 billion rupiah [about $130,000 at the time] to get a verdict lower than 20 years. …15 or 16 or 17 years like that,” he said.
He also revealed in the interview with former Dateline host Mark Davis that he had been threatened after his initial comments outside Kerobokan prison.
“The judges don’t like me telling the truth. I get many telephone calls threatening me,” he told Davis. “When I call back, the numbers, they are not valid.”
The callers, he said, told him that “if I expose anything, it will be trouble for me”.
with Karuni Rompies
BALI Nine member Renae Lawrence could have her sentence cut by nine months for good behaviour, as part of Indonesia’s Independence Day celebrations.
This year, well-behaved prisoners have also been recommended for a further reduction to mark another decade of independence. This year is Indonesia’s 70th anniversary.
Lawrence, 37, was sentenced to 20 years’ jail for her part in the 2004 Bali Nine heroin smuggling plot, and is the only member of the group eligible to receive time off her sentence.
The two men deemed “ringleaders” of the group — Myuran Sukumaran and Andrew Chan — were executed in April, and the other members are serving life in other Bali and Java jails.
Kerobokan Prison governor Sudjonggo says Kiwi Antony de Malmanche, who was jailed in June for 15 years for a drug smuggling crime, has also been recommended for a sentence reduction.
“While he’s not eligible for the decade remission, he’s suggested for three months off,” he said.
Also recommended for a three-month reduction was Australian Edward Norman Myatt, who was jailed for eight years in 2012 for smuggling capsules of hashish and methamphetamine into Bali.