Former antigraft czar Antasari Azhar and his lawyers, presenting a final defense plea against a recommended death sentence for the murder of businessman Nasrudin Zulkarnaen, on Friday likened the prosecution’s case against him to a cheap, poorly produced “soap opera.”
“The conspiracy to bring down Antasari is like a poorly directed opera played by poor actors,” said Muhammad Assegaf, one of five senior lawyers on Antasari’s defense team.
Assegaf, reading the defense plea at the South Jakarta District Court, said the fabrication of the case began with a hotel room meeting between Antasari and Rani Juliani, Nasrudin’s third wife.
The court, he said, had learned that Nasrudin himself had asked Rani to meet Antasari in a Gran Mahakam Hotel room and for her to keep her cellular phone on so he could record the conversation. Prosecutors have alleged the two engaged in a sexual act during the meeting.
“But then there was the scene in which Nasrudin was shocked and angry, and slapped Rani across the face — a scene [the prosecutors] would have been better off not playing [to the court] because it didn’t make any sense,” Assegaf said. “Why should Nasrudin get angry at Rani if he was the one who asked her [to go to the room]?”
“Those absurd scenes — which caused the [courtroom] audience to laugh — were mentioned in both the prosecution’s indictment and sentencing recommendation.”
The defense plea also claimed that businessman Sigid Haryo Wibisono’s recording of his meetings with Antasari pointed to a plot against the former antigraft chief. Sigid is also facing death for allegedly providing Rp 500 million ($53,500) to fund the murder.
Reading out his personal plea, Antasari described prosecutors as having relied mainly on their imaginations in preparing the charges and death sentence demand against him.
“Phrases like ‘Antasari could not resist the sweet Rani’ exist only in the imagination of the prosecutors,” said Antasari, who was a prosecutor for more than 20 years before taking the helm at the Corruption Eradication Commission in December 2007.
Another of Antasari’s lawyers, Juniver Girsang, launched a personal attack on the prosecutors, saying that despite repeated attempts to explain the simple facts of the case to them, they appeared not to have understood anything at all. He added that a visual explanation might have been easier for them to comprehend.
“Perhaps we could produce a soap opera based on their indictment,” Juniver said. “Maybe that would help them understand the fabrication.”
The court is scheduled to deliver verdicts against Antasari, Sigit and two other defendants on Thursday.