Jakarta. Setya Novanto's lawyers insisted that graft charges against him are "procedurally flawed," as the House of Representatives speaker's pretrial appeal was read at the South Jakarta District Court on Thursday (07/12).
Antigraft officials did not immediately respond to the pretrial hearing, through which Setya's legal team is trying to clear him as suspect.
Named a suspect in July, Setya won a pretrial motion in early October, also at the South Jakarta District Court, to have the status dropped. In late October, however, the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) managed to charge him again, and on Wednesday his case files were transferred to the Jakarta Corruption Court.
Setya is accused of siphoning Rp 574 billion ($42 million) from the Rp 5.9 trillion worth national electronic identity cards project, known as e-KTP, that resulted in Rp 2.3 trillion state losses. He can face 20 years in prison, if convicted.
Setya's lawyers in Thursday's hearing questioned the validity of evidence gathered by the KPK, and the formal status of its investigators.
They also complained that charges were announced before the probe against Setya commenced, and that he had not been summoned for questioning prior to being named a suspect.
"The [process of] naming the complainant as a suspect was fabricated, premature, invalid and legally flawed," lawyer Ketut Mulya Arsana said at the South Jakarta District Court.
It was through the very same pretrial mechanism that Setya managed to have his suspect status dropped earlier.
After Thursday's hearing, KPK investigators said they had followed all necessary procedures to charge Setya.
They nevertheless opted for not immediately reading out their response.
"There were more developments ... We have to include what our fellow investigators and prosecutors did yesterday," KPK legal bureau head Setiadi said after the hearing.
On Wednesday, KPK prosecutors transferred Setya's indictment and case files to the Jakarta Corruption Court.
In accordance with the code of criminal procedures, Setya's pretrial motion will be void once the charges against him are read at the antigraft court.
The first hearing is scheduled for Dec. 13, Jakarta Corruption Court spokesman Ibnu Basuki told reporters.
A ruling in Setya's pretrial is expected on Dec. 14, South Jakarta District Court judge Kusno said.
"It will be dropped when a judge who will be trying the core of this case hits the gavel to open the first hearing [at the antigraft court]," Kusno said.