Wednesday, August 13, 2008 Jakarta Post
Prosecutors seek 3-year jail term for Azirwan
Andreas D. Arditya , The Jakarta Post , Jakarta Tue, 08/12/2008
Prosecutors on Monday demanded a three-year prison term for Azirwan, suspended secretary of the Bintan administration in Riau Islands, who is charged with bribery over a forest conversion permit.
They said Azirwan was guilty of giving bribes worth a total of more than Rp 2.2 billion (US$242,000) to Al Amin Nasution, a legislator with the House of Representatives' Commission IV, which oversees forestry, agriculture and fisheries.
"The money was intended as a bribe for Al Amin, to secure a permit from the House to convert part of a protected forest in Bintan regency," said Anang Supriatna, one of four prosecutors from the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).
They also requested the court fine Azirwan Rp 150 million, or sentence him to an additional four months' imprisonment if he failed to pay it.
Prosecutors charged Azirwan with violating Article 5 (1a) of the 1999 Corruption Law, which carries a maximum penalty of five years in prison.
However, they did not seek the maximum sentence for the defendant, citing some mitigating facts for him.
"The defendant admitted and regretted his crime. The defendant also served as a civil servant for 28 years," said KPK prosecutor I Kadek Wiradana.
In response to the sentencing demand, Azirwan said he would leave it to his lawyers to deliver his defense plea at the next hearing, scheduled for Thursday next week.
At the previous hearing, Azirwan testified that Al Amin, from the United Development Party (PPP), and several other active and former members of Commission IV, demanded money from the Bintan administration to expedite the issuance of a forest conversion permit.
The local administration planned to convert 7,300 hectares of a protected forest into Bintan regency's new capital, Bandar Seri Bintan.
Under the forest conversion procedure, any land conversion request must be submitted to the forestry minister by a local administration. The minister then requires approval from Commission IV before issuing a ministerial decree on the project.
The KPK arrested Azirwan and Al Amin at a luxury hotel in South Jakarta around midnight on April 8, 2008, following Commission IV's approval of the conversion earlier in the afternoon.
Azirwan previously testified that the arrest came only a day after he made the last payment of 150,000 Singapore dollars to Al Amin.
Al Amin has been named a suspect in the graft case. Last week, the KPK submitted Al Amin's investigation dossier to prosecutors.
Four other legislators from the same commission -- Sudjud Sirajuddin of the National Mandate Party, Hilman Indra of the Crescent Star Party, and Azwar Chesputra and Syarfi Hutauruk of the Golkar Party -- and former member Yusuf Emir Faishal of the National Awakening Party, as well as Forestry Minister Malam Sambat Ka'ban, have also been implicated in the bribery case.
Yusuf Emir is also a suspect in a separate corruption case linked to a similar forest conversion permit in Banyuasin, South Sumatra, along with Commission IV member Sarjan Taher of the Democratic Party.