Novanto's lawyers quit ahead of corruption trial

Indonesia's Speaker of Parliament Setya Novanto (centre) walks out of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) building after a questioning session, in Jakarta, Indonesia on Nov 20, 2017.
Indonesia's Speaker of Parliament Setya Novanto (centre) walks out of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) building after a questioning session, in Jakarta, Indonesia on Nov 20, 2017. PHOTO: EPA-EFE

Defence lawyers for Indonesia's Speaker of Parliament Setya Novanto have parted ways with the politician, less than a week before his corruption trial.

Mr Fredrich Yunadi told The Sunday Times he and Mr Otto Hasibuan have withdrawn from the multi-trillion rupiah graft case. "Yes, my friend Otto and I have officially resigned from our client Setya Novanto, but his other applications in the Constitutional Court and reports filed with the police are still being handled by me."

The case is now in the hands of lawyer Maqdir Ismail, he added.

The lawyers left over a difference in opinion with their client, said Mr Otto: "I quit because I wanted to maintain my independence and integrity as a lawyer."

This is a major setback for Novanto, coming after the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) secured a trial date of Dec 13 from the Corruption Court in Jakarta.

Novanto had earlier filed a pre-trial motion in the South Jakarta District Court to get the charges against him thrown out before the corruption trial begins.

But a ruling on this pre-trial motion will likely be declared void because it is expected to be made only on Dec 14, after the trial begins.

Novanto has been declared a suspect by KPK in a massive corruption case involving dozens of politicians taking kickbacks for approving a 5.9 trillion rupiah (S$606 million) budget for the e-KTP - a biometric electronic identity card - project in 2010. Novanto was relieved of his duties as Golkar party chairman in November, a few days after he was detained by the KPK.

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Sunday Times on December 10, 2017, with the headline 'Novanto's lawyers quit ahead of corruption trial'. Print Edition | Subscribe