This article discusses flaws of Indonesia’s criminal procedural laws through an analysis of the Jessica Wongso case. After a televised trial in 2016, Wongso was convicted of murdering her friend Salihin, by putting cyanide in her coffee at a Jakarta café, and sentenced to 20 years’ imprisonment. The conviction was upheld on appeal in late 2018. The police obtained very limited evidence against Wongso, leaving prosecutors unable to determine the cause of Salihin’s death, much less to prove convincingly that Wongso was the perpetrator. By contrast, the defense mustered significant exculpatory evidence. But the judges, at first instance and on appeal, took an uncritical view of the prosecution evidence and ignored the defense case. Throughout the investigation and trial, Wongso was not accorded the presumption of innocence, partly because of Indonesia’s flawed or absent formal legal infrastructure for arrests, detentions, searches, and disclosure of prosecution evidence to the defense. It is also because highly prejudicial press coverage before and during trials is not prohibited and because judges lack professionalism. All this suggests a strong need for reform—not only to Indonesia’s criminal procedure law, but also to the way it is applied in practice.
Indonesia’s Criminal Justice System on Trial: The Jessica Wongso Case
Professor of Indonesian Law and Director of Centre for Asian and Pacific Law, University of Sydney Law School, firstname.lastname@example.org. Research for this article was funded by the Australian Research Council (FT150100294).
- Views Icon Views
- PDF LinkPDF
- Share Icon Share
- Search Site
Simon Butt; Indonesia’s Criminal Justice System on Trial: The Jessica Wongso Case. New Criminal Law Review 1 January 2021; 24 (1): 3–58. doi: https://doi.org/10.1525/nclr.2021.24.1.3
Download citation file: