Fri, 23 Feb 2001

Trial of former Bulog chief to continue

JAKARTA (JP): The South Jakarta District Court decided on Thursday to proceed with the trial of former chief of the State Logistics Agency (Bulog) Beddu Amang, a defendant in a corruption case which prosecutors allege inflicted Rp 95.4 billion (US$10 million) in losses on the state.

The court rejected objections lodged by defense counsel who argued that the prosecutors' indictment was premature and vague and that the case should be considered a civil case as it involved a land swap deal with PT Goro Batara Sakti.

"The bench acknowledges that the land exchange transaction between Bulog and PT Goro Batara Sakti may be considered to be a civil issue, but it's not impossible that during the course of the transaction criminal acts were committed," presiding judge Lalu Mariyun said.

Last year Beddu, who was then a member of the People's Consultative Assembly and so immune from prosecution, was indicted on the same charges, but the court threw them out as the prosecutors had failed to obtain presidential consent for the prosecution.

According to Fachmi, the defendant together with two executives of wholesaler PT Goro Batara Sakti, Hutomo 'Tommy' Mandala Putra and Ricardo Galael, as well as businessman Hokiarto, had illegally enriched themselves at the expense of the state through the 1995 land exchange deal.

In October 1999, the same court exonerated Tommy, the youngest son of former president Soeharto, and Ricardo of all corruption charges. But they were later respectively sentenced by the Supreme Court to 18 months in prison. Tommy, who disappeared a few days after President Abdurrahman Wahid rejected his appeal for clemency, is still at large. Hokiarto is to face a separate trial.

Mariyun adjourned the hearing for a week. (01)