Thu, 11 May 2000

Five prosecutors under investigation

JAKARTA (JP): In another blow to the Indonesian justice system, the Attorney General's Office admitted on Wednesday that five state prosecutors are suspected of taking a Rp 12 billion bribe to conceal evidence.

The five are currently under investigation by the internal affairs division at the Attorney General's Office in the graft case involving the former finance manager of Jakarta-based PT Aerowisata Catering Service.

Attorney General Marzuki Darusman confirmed that an internal investigation was underway and that the five were being questioned.

"Yes it's true, but we're still awaiting further reports," he said when asked about the investigation into the five prosecutors who are still active at the office's directorate of special crimes.

The graft case in which the five prosecutors were involved centers on the alleged swindling of some Rp 28 billion from PT Aerowisata's account by then finance manager Kosasih. Kosasih was named a suspect in the case last year.

The Indonesia Reform Advocacy Institute (LARI) in a report handed to the Attorney General's Office on Monday alleged that the five prosecutors seized several of Kosasih's properties earlier this year as evidence, despite its ownership being registered under a different name.

The seized properties, worth some Rp 12 billion, comprise an apartment in Sunter, East Jakarta, a plot of land in the Pulogebang area, East Jakarta, an automobile showroom in Tangerang with five Mercedes-Benz cars, Kosasih's own private car and several of his houses located in Jakarta, Bogor and Bandung.

The report, signed by LARI chairman Edi Soemarsono, stated that the prosecutors then sold off the evidence and divided the spoils.

According to the report, Kosasih was also told to flee by the prosecutors, thus hampering the case, since the suspect could not be brought to court.

Edi claimed that part of the information in the report was testimony from Kosasih's wife, Betty.

One of the five prosecutors being investigated, who spoke on condition of anonymity, admitted that the "bribe" did take place to impede the investigation.

However, he stressed that the seizure and eventual liquidation of assets was only conducted by the head of the prosecutors team, while the other four only signed the seizure notification.

"I only met Kosasih once during the first questioning... Moreover, I never saw the seized properties and was never involved in the seizure plan," he said.

During the investigation, Kosasih was obliged to report regularly to the Attorney General's Office. But he has not reported back since in July.

"He has never appeared here since then. From the report I received, he was suffering a stroke."

A high-ranking official at the Attorney General's Office, who also asked for his name to be withheld, said that the office had suspected a scandal even before it received LARI's report.

"We have already issued a warrant for Kosasih and have also asked the West Java's Prosecutor Office and the Bandung Police to help us get him," he said. (01)