Jakarta. Corruption Eradication Commission chief Abraham Samad laments a string of sentence cuts given by the government to a number of graft convicts on Independence Day saying it will hinder the country's fight against graft.
"Sentence cuts should not be given to corruptors, " he said in a text message on Monday adding that sentence cuts should only be awarded to corruption convicts who help law enforcers in their investigation as a whistle-blower.
The government routinely gives penalty cuts to convicts detained across the country as part of the Independence day celebration or their respective major religious holidays.
By law, all convicts who have served a certain length of their respective prison terms are eligible, but many have argued that such privileges should not apply to corruption and terrorism convicts.
The authority to hand out sentence cuts lies in the hands of the Ministry of Justice and Human Rights.
According to the ministry, 74,468 convicts have their prison-terms slashed during this year's Independence Day, but the ministry did not elaborate on just how many corruption convicts were also awarded with such cuts.
Prison officials however confirmed that several high profile corruption convicts are among those receiving the Independence Day sentence cuts.
Among them is Gayus Halomoan Tambunan, a former tax official sentenced to 30 years in prison for bribery, aiding several companies to evade paying taxes, bribing law enforcers and forging his passport, got a five month sentence cuts this year.
Previously during Muslim holiday Idul Fitri, Gayus also received a one-and-a-half month reduction to his prison term.
It is not known how much of Gayus's sentence has been slashed in total. But this year was Gayus' fourth year receiving both Independence Day and Idul Fitri sentence cuts.
This year's Independence Day sentence cuts were also given to at least seven high profile corruption convicts.
Johan Budi, spokesman for the antigraft agency known as the KPK, said the sentence reductions are not in accordance with the corruption eradication spirit the government has been boasting.
"Since the very beginning, KPK had urged that the cuts for corruptors be restricted," he said but added that the KPK can only give recommendations for the ministry to stop giving sentence cuts to corruption convicts.
The government issued a government regulation in 2012 barring corruption, terrorism and drug trafficking convicts from receiving sentence cuts, paroles and other privileges. But Justice minister Amir Syamsudin said the regulation does not apply to those convicted before the regulation is enacted. Gayus was found guilty and sent to jail in 2011.
Amir also said the government will continue to hand out sentence cuts, including to corruption convicts, as part of an effort to keep prisons from being overpopulated.
He said there are currently 162,964 inmates in prisons across the country while the prisons' capacity is only for a total of 109,011 inmates.