Tuesday, 4 August 2009

Former South Sumatra Governor Indicted For Forestry Graft Case

August 03, 2009

Nivell Rayda, The Jakarta Globe

Prosecutors at the Anti-Corruption Court on Monday formally indicted the former governor of South Sumatra for allegedly providing Rp 5 billion ($504,000) in bribes to members of the House of Representatives forestry commission in 2006-2007.

Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) prosecutors argued that Syahrial Oesman gave the money to expedite the conversion of a protected mangrove forest on the eastern coast of the province to pave the way for the construction of the Tanjung Api-Api seaport.

The prosecution charged Syahrial with violating Article 5 in the 1999 Law on Corruption, which carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison.

After Monday’s session, Syahrial and his lawyer Ignatius Supriadi vowed to prove that the allegations were not true.

“We will prove in court that my client had nothing to do with the graft scheme,” Supriadi said.

Lead prosecutor, Zet Todung Allo told the court, presided over by Judge Teguh Hariyanto, that a year after submitting requests to annul the protective status of the forest to the Ministry of Forestry, “the defendant learned in September 2006 that the permit required the consent of the House.”

“The defendant then told his provincial secretary, Sofyan Rebuin, to contact lawmaker Sarjan Tahir, who promised to help expedite the conversion process,” Zet said, referring to the former Democratic Party lawmaker.

Syahrial, the prosecution said, later requested Chandra Antonio Tan, the director of PT Chandratex Indoartha and one of the investors in the seaport project, to provide Rp 5 billion, as Sarjan had requested earlier.

The money was given by Chandra and Sofyan to Sarjan and former National Awakening Party (PKB) lawmaker Yusuf Erwin Faishal in the form of travelers’ checks issued by Bank Mandiri and Bank BNI.

The two former lawmakers then channeled the money to all 21 members of the House commission on two occasions in October 2006 and June 2007 at Sarjan’s office. The House unanimously voted in favor of the conversion on July 4, 2007.

Syahrial was the latest person to be indicted in the case. Earlier this year, the same court sentenced Sarjan and Yusuf to four and a half years in prison each for their role in the case, while Chandra received three years imprisonment.

Another lawmaker, Al-Amin Nasution from the United Development Party (PPP), was also implicated in the case and sentenced to ten years in prison. Al-Amin was also charged for a similar forest conversion case in Riau province in 2008.