Fri, 21 Mar 2003

Lawyers urge trials for councillors and officials

Sri Wahyuni, The Jakarta Post, Yogyakarta

Lawyers in Yogyakarta demanded on Thursday that all provincial councillors and public officials involved in a bribery scandal be brought to justice.

The Yogyakarta branch of the Indonesian Advocates Association (Ikadin) said it was unfair that only one councillor had been brought to court, when many others had also taken bribes.

The scandal revolves around the construction of an exhibition center in Yogyakarta.

Ikadin chairman Kamal said the prosecution should not stop with councillor Herman Abdurrahman. Other councillors and public officials must be investigated as well, he said.

"Otherwise it raises the question as to why they (the police) have named only Herman Abdurrahman as a suspect in the case," said the Ikadin executive.

It transpires, however, that Herman is also a member of Ikadin.

The Yogyakarta District Court on Monday sentenced Herman to two years in prison and fined him Rp 10 million (about US$1,100) for his key role in the Rp 150 million scandal.

The case revolves around the provincial government's move to seek legislative approval in November 2001 for an extra allocation of Rp 9.5 billion to complete the Jogja Expo Center (JEC).

During a closed-door meeting in a hotel here, Herman asked for Rp 200 million to "ease through" the legislative endorsement of the additional funds.

The local government gave him Rp 150 million, which he then distributed among 24 councillors after taking a cut of Rp 15 million. The other councillors claimed they had returned the money because its provenance was unclear.

Anticorruption activists urged prosecutors on Tuesday to investigate all those provincial councillors and officials who were involved.