Friday, July 1, 2022

Ex-Indonesia House deputy speaker Azis gets 3.5 years jail for bribery

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The Jakarta Corruption Court sentenced on Thursday (Feb 17) senior Golkar Party politician and former House of Representatives deputy speaker Azis Syamsuddin to three-and-a-half-years in prison for bribing a lawyer and a then-investigator to evade an investigation into a graft case in Central Lampung.

The panel of judges found him guilty of paying Rp 3.09 billion (US$215,515) and $36,000 in bribes in 2020 and 2021 to then-investigator Stepanus Robin Pattuju, a police officer who at the time was seconded to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), and lawyer Maskur Husain.

 
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The bribes were delivered in several batches between August 2020 and March of last year.

“The defendant did not support the government’s program of eradicating corruption; [his actions also] undermined the public faith in the House of Representatives,” judge Fahzal Hendri said, citing some of the aggravating factors against Azis, as quoted by kompas.com.

The bench also stripped Azis of his right to run for public office for the following four years after he serves his sentence.

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The sentence is eight months shorter than the four years and two months that KPK prosecutors had demanded.

Previously, antigraft activist group Indonesia Corruption Watch criticised the KPK for not demanding the maximum sentence of five years for bribery for defendants like Azis. It accused the KPK of holding back from deterring well-connected corrupt political figures.

Azis was arrested by KPK investigators at his residence in South Jakarta on the evening of Sept. 24 last year. His case adds to a long list of graft cases involving top-level public officials who are also senior politicians, putting a spotlight on the systemic failure of political parties to root out the plague of corruption within their ranks.

Past cases include former social affairs minister Juliari P. Batubara from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) and former maritime affairs and fisheries minister Edhy Prabowo from the Gerindra Party.

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Juliari was sentenced to 12 years in prison in August last year for accepting up to Rp 32.48 billion in bribes from private vendors that supplied Covid-19 food aid, while Edhy was sentenced to five years in prison in July last year for accepting bribes related to a lobster larvae export scandal.

Azis is also the third member of House leadership to be named a graft suspect in the past four years, after former House speaker Setya Novanto, also from Golkar, and former deputy speaker Taufik Kurniawan from the National Mandate Party (PAN).

Setya and Taufik are now serving prison sentences for rigging the e-ID project, which caused more than Rp 2 trillion in state losses, and for accepting bribes, respectively.

Lawmakers and regional councillors have been the second-most investigated type of individual by the KPK since its establishment in 2004, with 310 arrests as of Jan 3 of this year, after businesspeople.

This is followed by government officials, as well as local leaders like governors, mayors and regents.

Last year alone, 30 lawmakers and regional councillors were investigated for alleged involvement in corruption cases, according to KPK data. Bribery is also the most prevalent crime handled by the commission, followed by rigged procurement cases.

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