Wed, 19 Mar 2003

Yogya activists demand trials for corrupt councillors

Sri Wahyuni, The Jakarta Post, Yogyakarta

Anticorruption activists urged the prosecutors' office here on Tuesday to investigate provincial councillors and officials connected to a bribery case that led to councillor Herman Abdurrachman's two-year jail sentence.

Speaking separately to The Jakarta Post, activists from Yogyakarta Parliament Watch (Parwi), Yogyakarta Corruption Watch (YCW), and Yogyakarta Legal Aid Institute (LBH) said that for the sake of justice, the prosecutors' office had to charge all the public officials and put them on trial.

"Corruption is an organized crime that cannot be committed by just a single person. Everybody involved deserves the same trial," Eddy O.S. Hiariej of Parwi said.

Citing Article 12 of Law 20/2001 on corruption eradication, Edy said it was not only the recipients of the bribe who deserved punishment but those who gave the bribe as well.

The Yogyakarta district court on Monday sentenced Herman to two years in prison and fined him Rp 10 million (some US$1,100) for his key role in a Rp 150 million bribery scandal in the construction of the Jogja Expo Center (JEC).

The case revolved around the provincial government's move to seek a legislative approval in November 2001 for an extra allocation of Rp 9.5 billion to complete the JEC.

During a closed-door meeting in a hotel here, Herman asked for Rp 200 million to "ease through" the legislative endorsement for the additional funds. Provincial government secretary Bambang Susanto Priyohadi approved only Rp 150 million and asked city- owned developer PT Adhi Karya, the project's contractor, to provide the money.

Also attending the meeting were the head of the administration's budget department Bambang Wisnu Handoyo, head of the provincial resettlement and infrastructure office Edi Siswanto and several councillors.

Of the 24 witnesses questioned by the prosecutors, Herman and the city-owned company's director Duljiman were named suspects. The date for Duljiman's trial remains undecided.

From the bribe, Herman took Rp 15 million and divided the remaining Rp 135 million among 24 councillors, who later decided to return the money due to its unclear origin and uneven distribution.

"It was true that the state suffered no financial loss because the money was returned. But there was also a time that all the councillors held the money and enjoyed it. That's why they also deserve the same trial," said Budi Hartono, a senior staff member at LBH Yogyakarta.

Coordinator of Yogyakarta Corruption Watch (YCW), Paryanto, shared Budi Hartono's opinion, saying that bringing all the public officials to court would be a good shock therapy for all corrupters.

"Without public pressure, the prosecutors' office has the task of conducting a thorough investigation into all the people involved. The links are just too clear to ignore," said Paryanto.

Mudim Aristo, the chief prosecutor in Herman's trial, said his office had yet to decide on an investigation into the councillors and provincial officials for their alleged involvement in the case.