Indonesian judge ‘guilty of backing nepotism’

Indonesian judge ‘guilty of backing nepotism’

Constitutional court chief supported decision allowing his nephew, the president's son, to contest 2024 elections

Indonesian vice-presidential candidate Gibran Rakabumin Raka, the eldest son of President Joko Widodo, waves after registering for next year’s election on a ticket with Prabowo Subianto, the man Mr Gibran’s father defeated in two previous polls. (Photo: Reuters)
Indonesian vice-presidential candidate Gibran Rakabumin Raka, the eldest son of President Joko Widodo, waves after registering for next year’s election on a ticket with Prabowo Subianto, the man Mr Gibran’s father defeated in two previous polls. (Photo: Reuters)

JAKARTA - The chief justice of Indonesia’s Constitutional Court is set to be found guilty of ethical violations for his role in a decision that paved the way for the president’s son to contest the 2024 elections, the head of a judicial ethics panel said on Friday.

The decision sparked widespread outcry in the world’s third-largest democracy as it created a path for Gibran Rakabuming Raka, the 36-year-old son of President Joko Widodo, to run in the February poll.

The ruling prompted the formation of an ethics panel tasked to investigate the conduct of the court’s nine judges, including chief justice Anwar Usman, who is the president’s brother-in-law and Gibran’s uncle.

Anwar has dismissed the notion of a conflict of interest.

The head of the panel, former constitutional court judge Jimly Asshiddiqie, said Anwar had been deemed the “most problematic”.

Asked by a journalist whether that meant he had been found guilty, Jimly replied: “Yes, of course.”

“This case isn’t hard to prove,” he added.

Speaking to reporters after he was questioned by the panel on Friday, Anwar said he was ready for its decision.

Jimly did not elaborate on what sanctions would be taken, but the body can formally reprimand and dismiss judges, according to a 2023 court regulation.

The council will announce its ruling on Tuesday.

In a subsequent comment to Reuters, Jimly appeared to walk back on his earlier comments, saying that his statement was not the panel’s final decision.

The probe relates to a decision by the court last month that changed the eligibility criteria for the country’s elections, ruling that candidates under age 40 could run for president or vice president provided they had previously been elected to regional posts.

Defence Minister Prabowo Subianto named Gibran, the mayor of Surakarta, as his vice presidential running mate days after the decision.

Jokowi, as the popular Indonesian president is known, must step down after serving a maximum two terms.

Once hailed as a beacon of democratic progress, Jokowi is now facing criticism he is working to shore up his political dynasty to maintain influence when he leaves office.

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