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KPK Charges Constitutional Court Chief Justice in Bribery Scandal

 The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) charged Constitutional Court chief justice Akil Mochtar with allegedly accepting a bribe to fix the court’s ruling on a contested election on Thursday in the latest high-profile corruption case to stain one of Indonesia’s most powerful institutions.

The chief of the Indonesia’s antigraft body announced the charges in a Thursday evening press conference, naming Akil, Golkar Party lawmaker and Indonesian Council of Ulema (MUI) treasurer Chairun Nisa and four others suspects as the allegations against the chief justice grew to include at least two cases.

“This is related to the Gunung Mas election,” KPK chief Abraham Samad said. “A.M. and C.N. have been named suspects as recipients [of the bribes].”

Antigraft investigators staged raids on several locations last night, detaining at least seven people on bribery allegations. Up to Rp 3 billion ($261, 000) in Singapore and US bank notes and a white Toyota Fortuner were seized from Akil’s South Jakarta home.

The men stand accused of conspiring with Hambit Bintih, the incumbent district head of Gungung Mas, Central Kalimantan, to rig Indonesia’s democratic process, selling off the authority of the Constitutional Court to fix the court’s ruling on Hambit ‘s contested victory in the district’s Sept. 4 elections.

Hambit was arrested with a businessman identified as Dhani at the Redtop Hotel & Convention Center, a hotel north of the National Monument (Monas) and a short distance off Jalan Hayam Wuruk. Another businessman, Cornelis, was also detained and charged in connection with the case.

Hambit and Arton S. Dohong were re-elected in an election rife with allegations of voter fraud levied by rival candidates Jaya Samaya Monong and Daldin. The rival pair contested the election results, filing a suit against the local General Elections Commission (KPU) that landed before Akil in the Constitutional Court.

The chief justice had presided over four court sessions before his arrest.

Allegations of corruption mounted on Thursday as the KPK charged the Golkar Party-connected Tubagus Chaeri Wardhana and a woman identified as Susi in a separate bribery case allegedly involving Akil.

Tubagus, the husband of South Tangerang Mayor Airin Rachmy Diany and brother of Banten Governor Ratu Atut Chosyiah, was arrested at his home on Jalan Denpasar, in Kuningan, South Jakarta, early on Thursday morning. Susi was arrested in Lebak, Banten.

The pair stands accused of bribing Akil for a favorable ruling in a case that would have ordered the Lebak district KPU to scrap the results of a district election and hold a re-vote. Local Golkar Party board chairman and candidate Kasmin filed the complaint against the KPU, alleging widespread voter fraud, after he lost the election.

The allegations prompted one observer to call the arrest of Akil a “constitutional disaster” on Thursday, while former Constitutional Court Chief Justice Jimly Asshiddiqqie went as far as to moot the death penalty in an interview with the Indonesian news portal Republika, calling the threat of capital punishment “a deterrent effect.”

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono held a televised press conference at the State Palace following the arrests, expressing shock at the allegations, before warning of the dangers of corrupting one of the nation’s highest courts.

“This is very shocking, especially as the Constitutional Court is a very important institution and has a big role in the country’s administration,” Yudhoyono said. “The Constitutional Court’s role [in Indonesia] is very strong. The verdict is final and binding as stated in our 1945 Constitution… just imagine if the decision is wrong and there is a deviation of the verdict.”

The Constitutional Court issued a recommendation to suspend Akil in the wake of the charges. The court also reassigned the chief justice’s ongoing cases to another judge, according to reports on the Indonesian news portal Vivanews.

Akil’s arrest is the second to implicate a high-ranking Indonesian public figure in less than three months. The head of Indonesia’s oil and gas regulator SKKMigas Rudi Rubiandini was named a suspect over allegations that he accepted more than $600,000 in bribes from an oil company interested in receiving a tender from the Ministry of Energy and Mineral Resources.

Indonesia is routinely ranked as one of the most corruption nations on earth despite 2009 campaign promises by Yudhoyono to rid the nation of its endemic graft.



[Last update: 2013-10-03 05:54:29]

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