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Indonesia drive to halt graft turns to judiciary JAKARTA - A year into the rule of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, graft busters in Indonesia are turning their attention to the country’s notoriously corrupt judiciary through a case involving the half-brother of former strongman Suharto and Indonesia’s top court. Investigators from Indonesia’s Anti-Corruption Commission, or KPK, are on Monday expected to question two senior Supreme Court officials in connection with claims that Mr Suharto’s half-brother, Probosutedjo, paid more than Rp16bn ($1.6m, €1.3m, £898,500) to court officials to have a corruption conviction either thrown out or reduced.

The case emerged earlier this month after Mr Probosutedjo complained publicly that he had been forced to pay the bribes to Bagir Manan, the Supreme Court’s chief justice, and other court officials, all of whom have denied any wrongdoing. The payments, he said, were made in connection with his pending appeal of a 2003 four-year sentence for pocketing Rp100bn in state reforestation funds during his half-brother’s rule.

Judicial corruption is widely acknowledged as one of the biggest problems facing foreign businesses in Indonesia and one of the main barriers for Mr Yudhoyono’s government in its bid to attract fresh foreign investment to south-east Asia’s largest economy. It is not clear why Mr Probosutedjo, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, made what appear to be self-incriminating complaints public, although in televised appearances since, he has adopted the attitude of an outraged customer.

But together with the arrest last week of the general heading the national police fraud squad in connection with a $170m (€140m, £96m) bank fraud case, the issue has emerged as a sign of progress in the fight against graft in Indonesia, long considered one of the world’s most corrupt countries. “We have never seen a general at the police arrested, or the chief [judge] of the Supreme Court investigated. This is really the first time something like that has happened,” said Teten Masduki, head of Indonesia Corruption Watch.

Until now the anti-graft efforts initiated by the government of Mr Yudhoyono, who took office last year promising to lead a war against corruption, have been focused on the country’s big state banks and regional politicians. With the bribery allegations at the Supreme Court, however, the KPK says it now has a way into tackling corruption in the judiciary.

“This is the entry point for us to judicial reform,” Erry Riyana Hardjapamekas, the KPK’s deputy chairman, said in an interview with the Financial Times on Sunday. Indications that the KPK was taking the Probosutedjo case seriously emerged last Thursday when commission investigators raided offices at the Supreme Court.



Posted in General @ 31 October 2005 21:02 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink






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