ICJR Questions Legal Process on Zainal Abidin

Zainal Abidin’s case review petition (peninjauan kembali), was buried deep with other documents and undetected. The Supreme Court, however, made the decision on the case review just two days before Mr. Abidin was executed. ICJR presumes that the Supreme Court intended to do this, so that the execution can be accelerated.

Mr. Abidin was one of the death convicts executed in 29 April 2015. His execution is done, however, there are a lot of questions surrounding his case. He is the only Indonesian citizen standing on the death row, and at the same time the only death convict executed due to the possession of cannabis. These two problems, unfortunately, are just small matters compared to the larger problem which is the ill-favored criminal justice process sufferred by Mr. Abidin.

The Institute for Criminal Justice Reform (ICJR) recorded some irregularities on Mr. Abidin’s case.

The first problem is in regards to Mr. Abidin’s case review petition, which buried deep with other documents, even though he has submitted the petition in 2005. The Supreme Court examined the petition in 2015, 10 years after the submission. Hatta Ali, Chief Justice of the Supreme Court, even admitted that this is his institution’s mistake.

Secondly, the decision on Mr. Abidin’s case review petition was rendered on 27 April 2015, only two days before the execution. He even transferred to isolated room in Nusakambangan days before the execution, which confirmed that he was about to be executed, despite his petition was not final yet. This treatment is different compared to Serge Areski Atlaoui, whose execution was delayed due to his lawsuit at the State Administrative Court; and Mary Jane, whose execution was delayed as she is still needed to reveal the human trafficking cases in the Philippines. Therefore, Mr. Abidin’s transfer to the isolated room, should be done after the decision on 27 April 2015.

The third problem is regarding Mr. Abidin’s case. According to ICJR notes, Mr. Abidin was considered as big drug dealer due to his possession of 58.7 kilograms of cannabis.  The Police only determined three suspects at that time: Mr. Abidin, his wife, and Mr. Abidin’s friend Aldo—who picked up and transferred the cannabis package. While the police aware about the transaction, the person who actually send the cannabis is free up until now. Main witnesses called by the prosecutor were the member of police forces: M. Darwis and Triyono, who surprisingly knew about the transaction but only arrested Zainal Abidin.

The next problem was torture. Mr. Abidin said that he was tortured by the Police when he was examined for the Police Examination Report purpose. Mr. Abidin’s claim, however, was never assessed by the judges.

The fifth problem was the fact that Mr. Abidin had no legal counsel starting from the examination level. This situation should be the clue for judges to examine the possibility of torture. Mr. Abidin’s testified before the court that he was forced to make up the story and the Police Examination report, due to the torture. Unfortunately, these claims were also ignored by the judges.

Even though Mr. Abidin’s case has been closed due to the execution, ICJR noted that his case is the very example of the corrupt Indonesian criminal justice system—in particular for capital punishment cases. Mr. Abidin’s case review that buried deep and untouched is the responsibility of the Supreme Court, which must explain what happened with the petition for 10 years. The Supreme Court must also explain to the public that the decision on the case review was not accelerated to ease the death execution.

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