Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) investigators arrested on Friday five people in Balikpapan, East Kalimantan, as part of a bribery case related to a trial that involved businessmen Sudarman as the defendant and Balikpapan District Court judge Kayat.
In addition to Sudarman and Kayat, the three others arrested were Balikpapan District Court clerk Facrul Azami, lawyer Jhonson Siburian and Jhonson’s staff member Rosa Isabela.
“The operation was conducted at the Balikpapan court on Jl. Sudirman at around 5 p.m.,” said East Kalimantan Police spokesperson Sr. Comr. Ade Yaya Suryana on Friday night.
The antigraft body said it had caught Jhonson and Rosa red-handed giving Kayat bribe money inside the Balikpapan District Court compound in exchange for clearing Sudarman in a case Kayat presided in 2018.
KPK investigators confiscated a total of Rp 227.5 million (US$16,018) from different places, including Kayat’s car and Jhonson’s office.
“The judge was bribed to release the defendant,” said KPK deputy chairman Laode Muhammad Syarif.
According to the KPK, Kayat offered to release Sudarman, a defendant in a document forgery case, in exchange for Rp 500 million. Sudarman, through his lawyer, agreed but delayed the payment until after he was declared not guilty and released.
KPK spokesperson Febri Diansyah suggested that investigators had been watching Kayat for some time.
“[The arrest] was not based on one case only,” Febri said without elaborating.
Kayat was also a judge in the trial of an oil spill in Balikpapan Bay last year.
He sentenced MV Ever Judger captain Zhang Deyi to 10 years in prison and ordered him to pay a fine of Rp 15 billion in February for causing an oil pipe leak that triggered a massive fire and led to the death of five people.
Meanwhile, Jhonson is also known as an activist and chairman of the National Corruption Watch (NCW), which also advocates land issues in Balikpapan.