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Indonesian governor on trial in bribery case

Published on May 6, 2014 5:52 PM
 
The governor of Banten, Ratu Atut Chosiyah (centre) arrives for her trial at a corruption court in Jakarta on May 6, 2014. Indonesia’s first female provincial leader went on trial on Tuesday, accused of bribing one of the country’s top judges over an election dispute in an attempt to strengthen her political dynasty. -- PHOTO: AFP

JAKARTA (AFP) - Indonesia’s first female provincial leader went on trial on Tuesday, accused of bribing one of the country’s top judges over an election dispute in an attempt to strengthen her political dynasty.

The case of Ratu Atut Chosiyah, governor of Banten province, has transfixed even graft-weary Indonesia since her arrest last year for allegedly bribing the constitutional court’s chief justice Akil Mochtar, who has also been detained.

Her family dominates wealthy Banten 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 dictator Suharto.

The 51-year-old is accused, along with her brother Tubagus Chaeri Wardana, of giving one billion rupiah (S$110,000) to Mochtar to annul a local election result in Banten that went against one of her close associates, an anti-corruption court in the capital Jakarta was told.

She faces up to 15 years in jail if found guilty.

Prosecutor Edy Hartoyo told the court that Chosiyah and her brother gave the judge money “in order to interfere with a court ruling he was handling”.

Her brother is being tried separately.

The defendant asked the judge to annul the result during a 2013 meeting in Singapore, he said. One of the constitutional court’s roles is ruling on election disputes.

Despite the scandal, the governor’s family remain powerful in Banten. Two of her children were reportedly elected as local lawmakers in polls last month.

Mochtar was arrested last October and has been charged with rigging 11 elections.

NGO Transparency International 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.

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