Fri, 06 Jun 2003

Regent meets Rp 175m bail, goes back to work

Haidir Anwar Tanjung, The Jakarta Post, Pekanbaru, Riau

Only a day after controversial Riau Island regent Huzrin Hood was flown to Tanjung Pinang to face trial, he was granted bail by the head of the Tanjung Pinang Prosecutor's Office, Andi Puli Sultan.

He was released on Thursday at 1 p.m. after his family posted bail of Rp 175 million (US$21,342). This was much less than the Rp 4.3 billion that he is alleged to have embezzled from the province's 2001 budget.

Besides posting bail with the Tanjung Pinang District Court clerk, Huzrin's lawyer Hendie Devitra also put forward Huzrin's brother Hardi Selamet Hood as a personal guarantor.

Posting bail with the district court clerk is an unusual practice in Indonesia, as suspects usually post bail with the prosecutors or investigators.

On Wednesday, the Pekanbaru Prosecutor's Office flew Huzrin to Tanjung Pinang in a chartered aircraft, and handed over the suspect, the case files and all the evidence to the Tanjungpinang Prosecutor's Office. He is expected to stand trial immediately.

Hendie said his client had fulfilled all the requirements as stated in the Criminal Law Procedure Codes, namely the posting of bail and putting forward a member of his family as personal guarantor.

After being released from detention in the prosecutor's office, Huzrin directly went to his home.

"Upon his arrival at his home, he quickly changed into his uniform. He will be ready to take up his duties as regent again tomorrow," Hendie said.

Hendie said that he was ready to defend his client in the trial and would prove that the charges were unsubstantiated.

Huzrin was arrested in an apartment in Cikini, Central Jakarta, on May 30 and later transferred to Pekanbaru for intensive interrogation by the local prosecutor's office there.

He allegedly embezzled the money to buy political support for the establishment of a Riau Islands province.

A team from the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) found irregularities in its audit of the Riau Islands regency administration in 2001, with some Rp 87.2 billion in losses to the state being identified.

But Pekanbaru Prosecutor's Office head Muhammad Hussaini rejected the report saying that his office had only found possible embezzlement of Rp 4.3 billion, which had been paid over to a number of fictitious NGOs.

The Riau Islands Province Establishment Committee had earlier requested Riau Governor Saleh Djasit to also investigate corruption allegations against other regents in the province.

"We hope the governor will investigate other regents and officials suspected of even greater corruption than Huzrin. We see injustice in this case," said committee secretary Nur Syafriadi on Wednesday as quoted by Antara.

The case became public after the House of Representatives endorsed the law on the formation of Riau Islands province last year.

However, the endorsement was strongly opposed by the mother province of Riau and the resource-rich Natuna Islands. Responding to the opposition, President Megawati Soekarnoputri issued a decree earlier this year to delay the establishment of the new province.

Many believe that the funds that were allegedly embezzled were used to finance trips by hundreds of local people to Jakarta to voice their support for the new province at the House when legislators were deliberating the bill.