International review Investigation

Indonesia’s anti-graft agency detains House Speaker Setya Novanto

Indonesia's Speaker of the House Setya Novanto arrives at the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) building in Jakarta, Indonesia, on Nov 19, 2017. Source: REUTERS.

This material belongs to: The Straits Times.

JAKARTA – Indonesia’s Speaker of Parliament Setya Novanto has been detained by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) after the anti-graft agency announced late on Sunday (Nov 19) night that his medical condition does not require hospitalisation.

Novanto, 62, is being sought for questioning over a major scandal involving US$170 million (S$230 million) of stolen state funds.

The Golkar party chairman was admitted to a private hospital last Thursday (Nov 16) after the car he was in crashed into a tree and a street light pole in south Jakarta.

KPK issued an order to move him to the main state hospital RSCM in Central Jakarta, where Novanto was examined by the hospital doctors and by doctors from the Indonesian medical doctors’ association (IDI).

Novanto arrived at KPK at 11.40pm local time  on Sunday,wearing an orange KPK detainee vest and was ushered into the building in a wheelchair, footage from national television stations showed. He did not give any comments.

Novanto’s lawyer on Nov 15 filed a pre-trial petition against his client’s status as a corruption suspect, challenging the procedure KPK had carried out in handling the case. The first hearing for Novanto’s pre-trial will be held on Nov 30 at the South Jakarta District Court.

The anti-graft agency had earlier failed to locate and detain Novanto when it raided his home last Wednesday.

Investigators allege that Novanto was among dozens of politicians who received kickbacks from funds earmarked for a 2009 government project to issue new identification cards, called e-KTP, to citizens aged 17 and above. Indonesia, the world’s fourth most populous country, has a population of more than 250 million.

There has been speculation that the crash, in which Novanto suffered head injuries, was arranged as an excuse so he could avoid questioning. Novanto has failed to answer several summons from the KPK, citing a heart ailment.

Novanto’s lawyer Fredrich Yunadi has protested against Sunday night’s detention.

“What we have just seen shows that justice has been overtaken by power,”  he told The Straits Times by phone Monday morning.

He declined to comment on media reports quoting him over the  weekend that he would file a complaint against KPK to an international human rights tribunal.

Universitas Gadjah Mada’s law professor Sigit Riyanto  told Jakarta-based Elshita Radio on Monday morning that none of the existing international human rights tribunals has jurisdiction to hear the corruption case faced by Novanto.