Wed, 12 Sep 2001

JAKARTA (JP): The Central Jakarta District Court decided on Tuesday to continue the trial of tycoon Kaharudin Ongko and banker Leonard Tanubrata of the now defunct Bank Umum Nasional on corruption charges.

The two were accused of misappropriating more than Rp 5 trillion (US$556 million) of Bank Indonesia liquidity support funds to finance their affiliated businesses.

Presiding Judge Amirudin Zakaria said that the alleged misappropriation of funds took place between November 1997 and April 1998, prior to the new Anticorruption Law No. 3/1999. Therefore the court would try Ongko and Tanubrata under the previous Anticorruption Law No. 3/1971.

"Article 1 paragraph 2 of the Criminal Code stipulates that if there is any replacement of the existing law, judges can implement the law which is more favorable to the defendant," the judge said.

"As Law No. 3/1971 does not stipulate a minimum sentence or the death penalty, we decided to try the defendants under this law," Amirudin said.

"With this decision, we negate the argument of the defendants' lawyers who claimed that the court could not continue with the trial as the new law was not retroactive," Amirudin said.

BUN, which was also owned by timber tycoon Mohamad "Bob" Hasan, had received some Rp 12,067 trillion in liquidity support funds from the central bank between Dec. 22, 1997 and June 15, 1998. The suspects, however, allegedly misappropriated more than Rp 5 trillion of the fund.

Bob Hasan, who is now serving a jail sentence for another corruption case, has also been named a suspect in the BUN case. (tso)