JAKARTA - Legal experts presented on Friday by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) in a pretrial hearing at the South Jakarta District Court said that the antigraft body's decision to name National Police chief nominee Comr. Gen. Budi Gunawan a suspect in a bribery case was valid.
The first witness in Friday's pretrial hearing, former prosecutor Adnan Paslyadja, testified that according to the Criminal Code Procedures Code (KUHAP), KPK investigators had the authority to name an individual a suspect before completing their investigation.
"The only requirement is that there should be at least two pieces of evidence that the person could have committed a crime," he told Sarpin Rizaldi, the hearing's only judge, on Friday.
Adnan went on that investigators were not required to first question an individual as a witness before naming him a suspect, as long as the evidence was strong enough.
This could include material evidence or even witness testimonies, he added.
The commission named Budi a suspect on Jan. 13 for financial misdeeds after finding that, in his capacity as the head of the Career Development Bureau at the National Police headquarters from 2004 to 2006, he amassed a total of Rp 95 billion (US$7 million).
The money was allegedly collected from bribes and gratuities, including bribes paid by officers in pursuit of higher positions in the force.
Budi and his team of lawyers have repeatedly denied the allegations, claiming that the decision to name him a suspect in the case was based on a personal vendetta launched by KPK chairman Abraham Samad.
The team of lawyers had also claimed that the KPK's move had taken away Budi's freedom and sought a pretrial hearing to clear his name.
"The naming of a suspect does not limit someone's freedom," Adnan said when asked his opinion on the matter.
Budi's lawyers have also argued that the law stipulates that there must be five KPK commissioners at all times, and that any decision must be agreed upon by all five commissioners.
On Wednesday, Padjajaran University law expert Romli Atmasasmita, who was a graft convict in 2009, supported the lawyers' claims during his testimony at the pretrial hearing and said that Article 32 of Law No. 30/2002 on the KPK stipulated that the KPK must immediately fill the empty position or positions if there were fewer than five commissioners.
However, another expert witness in Friday's session, Gadjah Mada University legal expert Zainal Arifin Mochtar, insisted that the KPK could, and must, continue working even with only four active commissioners.
"There are currently only four commissioners and this happens not because it was designed, but simply because one of the commissioners' tenure has expired," he said.
Zainal explained that even if the KPK wanted to immediately fill the vacant seat, it could not do so without the President's consent. Even then, the new commissioner must be endorsed by the House of Representatives before being inaugurated.
Furthermore, he said that the KPK Law did not specify that KPK commissioners should operate collectively and that it was up to the antigraft body to decide as an independent, self-regulatory body.
This meant that KPK commissioners could make decisions democratically instead of reaching a unanimous decision.
Separately, head of the KPK's legal division, Catharina M. Girsang ,said that she was confident that the KPK would win its case against Budi. "We don't play around. We always consider the KPK Law, the Corruption Law and the KUHAP before we name someone a suspect," she said.