Mon, 07 Jul 2003

Yogya councillors to face summons in corruption case

Sri Wahyuni, The Jakarta Post, Yogyakarta

The Yogyakarta provincial prosecutor's office announced over the weekend it would proceed with the investigation into two of six councillors at the provincial legislature who have been declared suspects in a corruption case involving billions of rupiah.

Speaking to The Jakarta Post on Saturday, spokesman of the prosecutor's office Ranu Mihardja said they had received a faxed copy of a letter from the Minister of Home Affairs, who had granted permission to investigate two deputies of the council speaker, Totok Daryanto and Nur Achmad Affandi.

"We are waiting for the minister's original letter. Once we have received it, we'll proceed with the investigation of the two," Ranu said.

He said the office would not use the faxed copy to summon the suspects, because a councillor had previously refused to meet a summons issued on the basis of a fax from the minister.

While awaiting the original letter, the prosecutor's office is to continue questioning all witnesses from the eight insurance companies implicated in the case.

Ranu said his office was waiting for approval to question the other three suspects, while the case against the final suspect, a councillor from the Indonesian Military (TNI)/National Police faction, had been handed over to the local military prosecutor's office.

In March, the prosecutor's office named six councillors -- Totok, Nur Achmad, Herman Abdurrahman, M. Umar, Nuruddin Haniem and Markhaban Fakih -- as suspects in a case of misused funds from the provincial legislative council's budget.

A 15-member investigative team from the prosecutor's office had started the probe into the alleged involvement of the councillors in the corruption case, after receiving a report from the Yogyakarta Corruption Watch (YCW) in September 2002.

Initially, the investigation was focused only on the misuse of Rp 1.1 billion (US$134,425) of provincial budget, The funds were used to cover the councillors' health insurance premium, which allegedly violated Government Regulation No. 110/2000 on the council budget.

As the investigation developed, however, it was revealed that the fund allocated for the health insurance premium was taken from the executive post, rather than the legislative post in the provincial budget.

"We also discovered that the insurance fund scheme was not the only irregularity. Other irregularities were found in connection with the allocated councillors' social and political funds," Ranu said, and that the discrepancies had added up to over Rp 1 billion.

In a separate development, a letter from the Inspectorate- general at the Ministry of Home Affairs that had uncovered the irregularities in the provincial budget (APBD), also ordered that Yogyakarta Governor Hamengkubuwono X stop paying the councillors' allowances since March. The cut amounts to two-thirds of their monthly salary of Rp 6.2 million each.

When asked about the arrival of the home minister's letter of approval, both Totok and Nur Achmad said they were ready to comply with the summons.