Miranda seeks religious solace in detention
It appears to have become fashionable for high-profile graft suspects to put on displays of devoutness while locked up in a detention cell.
Miranda S. Goeltom, who was detained on Friday evening, has asked the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) to allow her the privilege of having a priest visit her cell so that she can carry out her religious duties
“We are here to ask the KPK to let Ibu Miranda conduct religious activities,” Dave Advitama, a member of the former Bank Indonesia senior deputy governor’s team of lawyers, told reporters on Saturday afternoon.
The lawyer stated that although Miranda was a graft suspect, she still had a right to practice her faith. “We only ask [the KPK] to give her permission for a religious service once every Sunday,” he said after visiting Miranda.
The KPK has been known to grant graft suspects their wishes for religious requirements.
“After we give a permit, a priest will regularly come to Miranda every Sunday,” KPK spokesman Johan Budi told The Jakarta Post on Saturday.
According to Arifpudin, the detention block warden, a priest would be assigned by the KPK and would therefore not need a permit to visit Miranda, unlike her family.
Miranda is not the only detainee to demonstrate piety. Earlier, Democratic Party lawmaker Angelina Sondakh requested an electronic Koran with an electronic pen.
The former beauty queen, who was a suspect in fraudulent budget allocations, was said to have intensified her religious activities by praying daily, reading the Koran and chanting Koranic verses.
Angelina was detained on April 27 after being implicated in two graft scandals — the Rp 191.7 billion (US$20.89 million) athletes’ village project in South Sumatra and procurement projects involving several universities in the country.
Miranda may demonstrate devoutness, but the KPK will continue investigating the vote-buying case surrounding her election as Bank Indonesia senior deputy governor in 2004.
“We are now focusing on Miranda. Perhaps, depending on our findings, we may investigate other suspects,” Johan said, referring to other actors who benefited from Miranda’s election.
A high town socialite, Miranda has often been seen at orchestra performances. For the next 20 days, however, she will remain in detention.
The vote-buying scandal first came to light in early 2009 when the KPK launched an investigation following an admission by former Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) lawmaker Agus Condro Prayitno.
Agus admitted that he and fellow lawmakers on the House of Representatives’ finance commission had accepted a number of traveler’s checks to swing votes for Miranda. Twenty-eight lawmakers were convicted for taking bribes in the election. Most have completed their jail terms.
The case also brought down Nunun Nurbaeti, a business woman who acted as a middleman between Miranda and the lawmakers. The Jakarta Corruption Court sentenced Nunun to two-and-a-half years in prison.
Previous court proceedings revealed that one of Nunun’s subordinates, Arie Malangjudo, distributed checks worth Rp 20.85 billion to dozens of lawmakers upon Nunun’s instructions on June 8, 2004.
The court also revealed that the Rp 20.85 billion checks were part of a total of Rp 24 billion in checks bought earlier the same day from Bank Internasional Indonesia (BII) by Bank Artha Graha on behalf of PT First Mujur Plantation and Industry.
However, the trail apparently went cold when Ferry Yen, who many believed could shed light on how the checks found their way into lawmakers’ pockets, died in 2007.
KPK deputy chairman Bambang Widjojanto has hinted that Miranda’s detention would facilitate the investigation.
Johan told the Post that the KPK had yet to make a questioning schedule for Miranda, but said the anti-graft commission would likely summons Nunun Nurbaeti to dig for more information on Miranda’s case.
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