Medical scans to decide if Novanto fit for interrogation

Fredrich Yunadi, the lawyer for Indonesia's Speaker of the House Setya Novanto, shows a picture of Novanto being treated in a hospital following a car accident in Jakarta on Nov 16, 2017.

JAKARTA - Indonesia's Speaker of Parliament Setya Novanto will undergo medical scans to determine if he is fit enough to be interrogated, said anti-corruption agency KPK on Friday (Nov 17).

The Golkar party chairman was admitted into a private hospital on Thursday after the car he was travelling in crashed into a tree and an electricity pole in south Jakarta. He was moved to state hospital RSCM on Friday and is being guarded by armed policemen.

Novanto's lawyer Fredrich Yunadi said on Thursday that the crash took place while his client was making his way to KPK's offices to be interrogated.

The anti-graft agency had failed to locate and detain Novanto when it raided the politician's home on Wednesday.

Shortly before the accident, KPK had asked the national police chief and Interpol to place Novanto on a wanted list, KPK spokesman Febri Diansyah told Inews TV.

Novanto, 62, is being sought for questioning by KPK over a major scandal unearthed in 2014 involving US$170 million (S$230 million) of stolen state funds. Investigators allege he was among dozens of politicians who received kickbacks from funds earmarked for a 2009 government project to issue new identification cards, called e-KTP, to citizens aged 17 or above.

Speculation has swirled that the crash, in which Novanto suffered head injuries, was arranged to create an excuse to avoid interrogations. Novanto had previously eluded several summons from the KPK to be questioned, citing a heart ailment.

Jakarta police revealed on Friday that the black Toyota Fortuner SUV involved in the accident was driven by MetroTV journalist, Mr Hilman Mattauch. Hilman faces charges of reckless driving, as he was using a mobile phone while driving. Novanto sat behind the driver in the middle row of seats while the third passenger, an aide to Novanto, sat in front.

During questioning by police, Hilman said he wasn't fully focused on the road because he was chatting with Novanto and had to pick up a call from the TV studio. The car swerved to the right, and mounted the pavement before hitting a tree and a pole.

Police said in a statement on Friday that Novanto was on way to the MetroTV studio for a live interview before he decided to just have a phone interview with the television station. Novanto's lawyer Mr Fredrich said he had planned to head to KPK's offices after his visit to MetroTV.

Netizens on social media reacted to Thursday's accident with typical humor and scepticism, creating a hashtag #SaveTiangListrik (save the electricity pole). Supposed photos of the accident appearing in Indonesian media showed only minor damage to the front of the car as well as the electricity pole.

Mr Deddy Rinaldo tweeted: "Judging from the crash impact on the car and the severity of Novanto's condition, we conclude Novanto was sitting on the engine hood."

"Novanto had a concussion symptom after ramming into an electricity pole at 20km per hour. What kind of car was he using?", another netizen Ms Dewi Salamah said.

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