Tue, 10 Jun 2003

Lampung councillors named corruption suspects

Oyos Saroso HN, The Jakarta Post, Bandar Lampung, Lampung

Three councillors were declared suspects on Monday for the alleged misuse of Rp 19.5 billion (US$2.4 million) from the Lampung 2001 provincial budget.

The three suspects are: chairman of the budget committee Abdul Azib Zanim of the National Mandate Party (PAN) faction, committee secretary Tan Gatot Mahawisnu of the National Awakening Party (PKB) faction and council budget commission member Fauzi Saleh of the Golkar Party faction.

The head of the investigating team from the Lampung Prosecutor's Office, Darmono, said the three had been declared suspects because they had arranged the budget. He also said it was possible that 72 other councillors would be declared suspects.

Previously, the head of the prosecutor's office, I Putu Kusa, had discontinued the investigation into the case due to a lack of evidence, plus the prosecutor's office apparently had a backlog of more important cases.

Reports from the Lampung Development Finance Comptroller said the amount of misused funds were Rp 23.5 billion.

But Darmono rejected the comptroller's report, saying the prosecutor's office found that only Rp 19.5 billion was misused.

Lampung council speaker Abbas Hadisunyoto said that there were some allocations in the budget that were not governed by Government Regulation No. 110/2000 on the budget.

"But that's not corruption," he said.

Most legislators supported Abbas, saying there was no corruption involved during budget discussions.

Home minister Hari Sabarno has supported the investigation and has said he would provide the prosecutor's office with a letter approving the investigation if necessary.