In another major blow to the reputation of Indonesia’s highest court, Constitutional Court Judge Patrialis Akbar has been arrested by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).
KPK chairman Agus Rahardjo confirmed Patrialis’ arrest, telling Tempo via SMS, “It’s true, there was a sting conducted by the KPK in Jakarta.”
The details of why Patrialis was arrested have not yet been revealed, but according to Agus, there were a number of other parties arrested in addition to Patrialis at the time.
There have also been numerous reports in the media, which have not yet been officially confirmed, that Patrialis was arrested while at a hotel in Tamansari, West Jakarta (an area of the capital with a somewhat… unsavory reputation) supposedly while he was in the company of two women.
If that allegation proves to be true, many observers have already noted that it would represent an astonishing level of hypocrisy on the part of the famously conservative Patrialis. As one of the judges overseeing an ongoing judicial review filed by conservative Islamic groups seeking to rewrite Indonesia’s laws to make all sex outside of marriage illegal, Patrialis has often appeared to be less an impartial arbiter of the law than an eager proponent for the petitioners’ case, often using religious reasoning to support the idea that Indonesian law should criminalize adultery.
When Patrialis was appointed to the Constitutional Court in 2013, many critics doubted his ability to remain impartial in electoral disputes, given that he had been a senior member of the National Mandate Party (PAN) in the past. A coalition of civil society organizations challenged the decision to appoint him for lacking transparency.
In the wake of Patrialis’ arrest, the chairman of the Constitutional Court, Prof. Dr. Arief Hidayat, apologized profusely to the people of Indonesia.
“I ask forgiveness from Allah. I apologize to the nation. The Court has made a mistake again, although this is personal it has tarnished the institution yet again,” Arief said at the Constitutional Court building today as quoted by Detik.
The previous mistake that Arief was referring to was the KPK’s arrest of his predecessor, former chief justice Akil Mochtar, by the KPK in October 2013. Akil was arrested red-handed accepting a bribe to rule on an election dispute. He was sentenced to life in prison but the reputation of the Constitutional Court was nonetheless seriously damaged.