Death of witness 'won't derail' corruption probe in Indonesia

JAKARTA • Indonesia's anti-corruption commission yesterday said the death of a witness in a graft investigation implicating dozens of politicians will not derail its probe.

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has already named the Speaker of Parliament, Mr Setya Novanto, as a suspect in the probe that has targeted at least 37 people.

Mr Novanto has denied any wrongdoing in the case, which dates back to 2009 and centres on allegations that sums ranging from US$5,000 (S$6,800) to US$5.5 million - money generated by marking up the costs of a national electronic identity card programme - were divided up in a Parliament room.

The witness, Mr Yohanes Marliem, was reported by US media to have died in West Hollywood last Thursday after a stand-off with police involving several hostages.

Indonesia's national police international relations chief Saiful Maltha yesterday said the US authorities have confirmed the death. "We do not know the cause of the death yet," he added.

Despite the death of the witness, KPK spokesman Febry Diansyah said the investigation would go on.

"We are confident with the evidence we have," he said yesterday.

Indonesian newspaper Kontan yesterday published recent quotes from Mr Marliem saying he feared for his safety.

Mr Novanto, the Speaker of the House of Representatives and chairman of Indonesia's second-biggest political party, Golkar, was named as a suspect in the case last month.

Tensions between the KPK and Parliament have festered for years and some MPs suggest political motives to be behind the probe.

REUTERS

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on August 13, 2017, with the headline 'Death of witness 'won't derail' corruption probe in Indonesia'. Print Edition | Subscribe