Saturday, 24 May 2008

BKSDA officials named suspect in Riau forest funds graft case

Saturday, May 24, 2008 6:46 PM

Mayor stands trial for corruption

The Jakarta Post , Jakarta Sat, 05/24/2008

The graft trial of Medan Mayor Abdillah, charged with stealing more than Rp 54 billion (US$5.7 million) of state money, began in the Corruption Court on Friday.

State prosecutors told the court the defendant had embezzled Rp 50.5 billion from the regional budget and Rp 3.6 billion in a fire engine purchase.

The prosecutors said Abdillah had violated Articles 2 and 3 of the Corruption Eradication Law. Each breach carries a maximum sentence of life imprisonment.

Abdillah has chosen not to challenge his indictment.
"I just want to go (directly) to the substance of the case," the defendant said after the session.

Under the court system, a defendant has the right to file an objection to an indictment based on the court's authority to hear the case and the clarity of the charges.

Abdillah, who has been mayor since 2000, is accused of misappropriating the regional secretary's annual budget from 2002 to 2006, assisted by former regional secretary and current deputy mayor, Ramli, and 12 officials at the secretary office.

The team of prosecutors, consisting of Suharto, Muhibuddin, Chatarina and Afni Carolina, said the mayor conspired with the officials to rig financial assistance proposals from nongovernmental, social and professional organizations, as well as institutions, as cover-ups for the disbursements.

The 52-year-old mayor allegedly gave some of the money in cash to at least seven members of the City Council, the head of the Medan prosecutor's office, an official of the State Audit Agency and the city police chief.
Prosecutors also accused Abdillah of using the money for various personal purposes including buying cars and luxury items for his relatives, paying for his wife's trip to Japan, paying for his assistant's wedding and giving condolence money when Ramli's mother died.

Abdillah, who has been detained since January, is also accused of marking up prices for the purchase of a fire engine in January 2006.

The prosecutors have accused him of conspiring to make a false letter of price verification, which was used to sanction a Rp 12 billion payment for a fire engine worth only Rp 9 billion.

Abdillah allegedly gave Rp 1 billion of the additional money to deputy mayor Ramli and a total of Rp 200 million to six officials from the Medan administration.

Ramli's trial was originally scheduled to begin last Thursday, but the hearing was adjourned for a week because the defendant was sick.

Businessman Hengky Samuel Daud, who was implicated in the purchase of the fire engine, is currently at large. He was also involved in similar cases in at least three other cities, Makassar (South Sulawesi), Pekanbaru (Riau) and Samarinda (East Kalimantan).

Presiding judge Edward Pattinasarani adjourned Abdillah's trial until next Wednesday, when the prosecutors are scheduled to call their witnesses.
Abdillah is the second regional chief brought to the Corruption Court this year.

The court is currently hearing the trial of Tengku Azmun Jaafar, regent of Pelalawan in Riau, who is accused of illegally issuing forest resource utilization permits to 15 companies and embezzling Rp 1.2 trillion of state money.(dre)