Yusril Ihza Mahendra, the former justice and human rights minister, has mounted a legal challenge to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s decision to slash the prison sentence of Australian drug smuggler Schapelle Corby.
Yudhoyono cut five years from Corby’s 20-year sentence for drug trafficking last month after she appealed for clemency.
Yusril, one of the country’s most prominent lawyers, filed the lawsuit on Thursday with the State Administrative Court, on behalf of the National Movement Against Drugs (Granat).
Speaking to reporters after filing the lawsuit, Yusril said that all decisions made by state officials, including the president, could be challenged.
“Our legal challenge against the President’s decree is clearly allowed under the law,” he said.
Yusril has notched up several high-profile victories against the government, including the dismissal of then-Attorney General Hendarman Supandji.
Opposition lawmakers and antidrug activists have criticized Yudhoyono for cutting Corby’s jail term, saying it undermined the country’s effort to combat drug trafficking. Others accused Yudhoyono of bowing to pressure from Canberra in granting Corby’s plea for clemency.
Yusril said the decision to slash Corby’s sentence contradicted the government’s policy to take a strict line on graft, drug and terrorism, all of which have been defined as extraordinary crimes. He said he feared the decision could set a bad precedent for the country’s fight against drugs.
The lawyer also argued that the president’s authority to grant clemency, enshrined in the Constitution, could be challenged because it had been amended.
Prison officials said that the clemency, combined with a series of remissions handed out every year since Corby was jailed in 2005, would see the convict released in 2017, or even earlier if granted paroled.