Indonesia's first female governor jailed for corruption

Indonesian Ratu Atut Chosiyah arrives at a court prior to her trial in Jakarta on Sept 1, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP
Indonesian Ratu Atut Chosiyah arrives at a court prior to her trial in Jakarta on Sept 1, 2014. -- PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA (AFP) - Indonesia's first female provincial leader, and head of one of the country's most powerful political dynasties, was jailed for four years Monday for bribing a top judge over an election dispute.

The case of Ratu Atut Chosiyah has transfixed even graft-weary Indonesia since her arrest last year for giving kickbacks to the constitutional court's then chief justice, Akil Mochtar.

Her family dominates wealthy Banten province on the main island of Java, controlling five of its eight districts. It is one of several local political dynasties that have flourished since the 1998 downfall of former president Suharto.

Judges at a special anti-corruption court in Jakarta found the 52-year-old guilty of bribing Mochtar with one billion rupiah (S$106,637) to annul a local election result in Banten that went against one of her close associates.

She was sentenced to four years in jail, lighter than the 10-year term sought by prosecutors. She was also ordered to pay a fine of 200 million rupiah.

"Clearly it's not fair to me," said Chosiyah, who has been in custody since her arrest, after the verdict was handed down. "I'm the victim."

Prosecutors said at an earlier hearing that the judge was asked to annul the result during a meeting in Singapore, and the constitutional court later did so.

A main role of the court is ruling on election disputes.

The governor's brother, Tubagus Chaeri Wardana, was jailed for five years in June for plotting to bribe Mochtar to influence his rulings on election disputes in Banten, after a separate trial.

Despite the scandal, the governor's family remain powerful in the province.

Mochtar was jailed for life in June for accepting more than US$5 million (S$6.25 million) in bribes to influence rulings on election disputes, linked to the case of Chosiyah and a series of others.

Transparency International, a non-governmental organisation, ranked Indonesia 114th out of 177 countries and territories in its annual corruption perceptions index last year. A number one ranking means the least corrupt.