Bribery suspect Panda says waiting for trial was ‘miserable’
The trial: Golkar Party senior politician and former national development planning minister Paskah Suzetta (left) leaves the courtroom after the first session in his graft trial at the Corruption Court in Jakarta on Wednesday. Along with four fellow Golkar politicians, Paskah was charged with accepting bribes in the 2004 election of a Bank Indonesia senior deputy governor Miranda S. Goeltom. JP/R. Berto WedhatamaIt was his first day standing trial as a bribery suspect.
Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) lawmaker Panda Nababan — the only active lawmaker implicated in the high-profile Bank Indonesia bribery case — found the hours leading up to his first trial session to be excruciatingly long.
The first words he said to the Corruption Court were: “Please, your honor, I felt miserable waiting so long, from this morning until the trial started.”
Panda is one of the 25 politicians standing trial for receiving bribes for the election of Miranda S. Goeltom as a Bank Indonesia senior deputy governor in 2004 when they were members of the House of Representatives’ commission IX overseeing financial affairs.
There were five separate trials linked to the case with a total of 20 defendants on Wednesday at Jakarta’s Corruption Court, making it one of the biggest graft trials and has also attracted a lot of public attention.
Panda arrived at 9:30 a.m. along with the other defendants, but his trial did not begin until at least 3 p.m. “Please, your honor, don’t keep me waiting in vain,” he said.
Presiding judge Eka Budhi Prijatna said he would take note of Panda’s objection before he ordered him to follow the proceedings.
Panda and three other PDI-P politicians were charged with misusing their powers as state officials when they took bribes to support Miranda, an accusation Panda claims is completely baseless.
“I don’t understand what my role in the crime was. I don’t understand the indictment, your honor,” Panda told the judges when he was asked whether he understood the prosecutors’ charges against him. That protest led to chaos.
Prosecutor Mochamad Rum was forced to explain the indictment, reiterating the rule saying that state officials are not allowed to accept bribes and gifts related to their positions. Panda’s lawyer, Abdul Hakim Garuda Nusantara, again asked what his client’s role was in the crime, a question that irked the bench.
“The prosecutor has explained it. Do you understand or not? The judges concluded that he has made a clear explanation. So, please, don’t confuse us all,” judge Eka said.
The other high-profile suspect in the case who was indicted on Wednesday was Paskah Suzetta, former national development planning minister who served President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono during his first tenure in office from 2005 to 2009.
He chaired the House commission that elected Miranda, claiming he knew nothing about the bribery and that her election was fair and credible.
“I was charged with accepting bribes, Therefore, I want the court to also bring the bribe payer to testify during my trial,” Paskah said.
The scandal has generated criticism because up until now the anti-corruption body has not nailed the alleged bribe payer despite the fact that four legislators who testified about the involvement of the 26 suspects were imprisoned in May last year for allegedly accepting the same travelers’ checks.
The KPK has so far not been able to summon alleged middlewoman Nunun Nurbaeti, who claims to be suffering from “severe forgetfulness”, for questioning.