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 Megawati Back on KPK’s Radar After Suryadharma’s Hajj Revelation

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BerichtOnderwerp: Megawati Back on KPK’s Radar After Suryadharma’s Hajj Revelation   ma 7 sep 2015 - 23:31

The Jakarta Globe. Sept. 7 2015

Jakarta. Indonesia’s antigraft commission says it may pursue investigations into individuals said to have benefited from free hajj trips handed out by a former minister now on trial for corruption, including former president Megawati Soekarnoputri.

Suryadharma Ali, the ex-minister charged with embezzlement and irregular awarding of contracts to provide accommodation for Indonesian pilgrims in Mecca and Medina, testified at his trial on Monday that he handed out hundreds of free slots on the annual pilgrimage in 2012 to senior officials, even as thousands of ordinary Indonesians continue to languish on a waiting list that in some regions runs 17 years.

Among those said to get free hajj allocations are Megawati, with 50 seats; former vice president Boediono, with 100 seats; and former defense minister Purnomo Yusgiantoro, who received 70 seats.

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), which is prosecuting the case against Suryadharma, said there might be grounds to investigate the officials mentioned, but not right away.

“The case may be developed [in that direction] after a final, binding court verdict is issued against [Suryadharma],” Indriyanto Seno Adji, a KPK commissioner, said in a text message to reporters on Monday in response to the former minister’s testimony.

“We cannot decide yet if those individuals can be definitely held responsible before a legally binding verdict is issued by the court [in Suryadharma’s case],” he added.

In addition to handing out the free hajj trips to cronies, Suryadharma is charged with bypassing the required tender process in appointing 17 Saudi firms and hotel operators to provide accommodation and catering for Indonesian pilgrims in the Muslim holy cities of Mecca and Medina.

The alleged crime “cost the state Rp 27.3 billion and 17.96 million Saudi riyal ($4.79 million),” prosecutors from the KPK said in their indictment.

Suryadharma also faces charges of embezzling Rp 1.8 billion ($125,800) of operational funds for his personal use. He claims, though, that he merely “borrowed” the money and had every intention of paying it back (he still has not done so), and that bypassing the tender for the hajj housing project was a necessary move to finalize the pilgrims’ accommodation in time for the hajj.

He faces a maximum life sentence in prison and fines of up to Rp 1 billion if found guilty of all the charges.

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