Monday, 5 January 2009

Indonesian ex-MP gets 8 yrs jail for forest bribe

Indonesian ex-MP gets 8 yrs jail for forest bribe

Mon Jan 5, 2009 1:40pm

JAKARTA (Reuters) - A former Indonesian member of parliament was sentenced to eight years in jail on Monday for taking bribes in exchange for agreeing to turn over protected forests for other uses.

The corruption court's decision comes as Indonesia tries to tackle widespread graft and protect the environment by clamping down on illegal logging.

Al Amin Nur Nasution was found guilty of receiving bribes in exchange for a proposal to change the use of 7,300 hectares of protected forests in the Riau islands, off Sumatra, the judges said.

"What the defendant has done hurts the image of parliament, betraying the people's trust, and is against the government's efforts to eradicate corruption," said presiding judge Edward Pattinasarani.

The United Development Party (PPP), an Islamist party, forced Nasution to resign his parliamentary seat as a result of the case.

Nasution was also ordered by the court to pay a 250 million rupiah ($23,040) fine. He said he would appeal the sentence.

Indonesia has frequently been criticised by green groups for failing to tackle deforestation in the vast archipelago.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who faces elections this year, has promised to tackle endemic graft.

Corruption is often cited as a major deterrent to investment in Southeast Asia's biggest economy.