Indonesia's anti-graft agency detains House Speaker

Mr Setya Novanto arriving in a wheelchair at the Corruption Eradication Commission building in Jakarta on Sunday, wearing the anti-graft agency's orange vest for detainees.
Mr Setya Novanto arriving in a wheelchair at the Corruption Eradication Commission building in Jakarta on Sunday, wearing the anti-graft agency's orange vest for detainees.PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Golkar chairman under probe for graft taken from hospital after examination by doctors

Indonesia's Speaker of Parliament Setya Novanto has been detained by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) after the anti-graft agency announced late on Sunday evening that his medical condition does not require hospitalisation.

Mr Novanto, 62, is being sought for questioning over a major scandal involving US$170 million (S$230 million) of stolen state funds.

He is the highest-profile individual implicated in the case.

The Golkar party chairman was admitted to a private hospital last Thursday after the vehicle he was in crashed into a tree and a street light pole in South Jakarta.

KPK issued an order to move Mr Novanto to main state hospital RSCM in Central Jakarta, where he was examined by the hospital's doctors and by doctors from the Indonesian Medical Association.

Golkar is the second-biggest party in Parliament.

Mr Novanto arrived at the KPK office at 11.40pm on Sunday, wearing an orange KPK detainee vest, and was ushered into the building in a wheelchair, footage from national television stations showed.

Investigators allege that Mr Novanto 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 and above.

He did not give any comments.

His lawyer last week filed a pre-trial petition against his status as a corruption suspect, challenging KPK's procedure in handling the case.

Mr Novanto's first pre-trial hearing will be held on Nov 30 at the South Jakarta District Court.

He has also filed a petition to the Constitutional Court to seek a ruling that any investigation of a Member of Parliament must have prior consent from the President.

The anti-graft agency had earlier failed to locate and detain Mr Novanto when it raided his home last Wednesday.

Investigators allege that 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 and above.

Indonesia, the world's fourth most populous country, has a population of more than 250 million.

Among the politicians who allegedly received kickbacks were governor of Central Java province Ganjar Pranowo and Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly.

Both have repeatedly denied the allegations. But their fate could be decided by several ongoing trials involving other officials linked to the case.

There has been media speculation that Mr Novanto's vehicle crash, in which he suffered head injuries, was arranged so that he could avoid questioning.

Mr Novanto has failed to answer several summons from the KPK, citing a heart ailment.

 

His lawyer Fredrich Yunadi has protested against Sunday night's detention.

"What we have just seen shows that justice has been overtaken by power," he told The Straits Times by phone yesterday morning.

He declined to comment on media reports quoting him over the weekend that he would file a complaint against KPK to an international human rights tribunal.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 21, 2017, with the headline 'Indonesia's anti-graft agency detains House Speaker'. Print Edition | Subscribe