The Semarang Corruption Court on Friday sentenced Central Java Legislative Council Deputy Speaker Riza Kurniawan to three years in prison for embezzling social aid funds (Bansos) for religious activities.
The court also ordered him to pay a fine of Rp 100 million (US$10,355) or serve an additional six months in jail for graft.
The panel of judges found the National Mandate Party (PAN) politician guilty of embezzling aid funds from the 2008 Central Java provincial budget. He was found to have violated articles 3 (1) and 11 of Law No. 31/1999 on corruption eradication.
Riza was also ordered to return Rp 127 million to the state or serve an additional one year prison term.
“If he fails to pay within a month after the sentence was given, his wealth will be seized,” said presiding judge Ifa Sudewi, who was accompanied by members Dolman Sinaga and Kalimatul Jumro.
The verdict was more lenient than the five years demanded by prosecutors, who also wanted a fine of Rp 300 million (or an additional six months in jail) and compensation of Rp 127 million (or an additional three years in prison).
The panel of judges did not find Riza guilty of the primary charge, which was the initiator of the crime. He was, however, found guilty of the subsidiary charge for jointly committing the crime.
The defendant was deemed to have caused a loss to the state but did not admit to it. Mitigating factors included the fact that he behaved politely in court and had returned Rp 1.025 billion to the state.
Responding to the verdict, both Riza and the prosecutors said they would appeal.
“The judges’ verdict isn’t based on strong evidence. I will appeal,” Riza said.
Prosecutor Ediyus Manan of the Magelang Prosecutor’s Office, on the other hand, said that they would appeal because the secondary charge had been used by the panel of judges, not the primary charge.
Riza was named a suspect after allegedly misappropriating religious funds for Magelang regency from the 2008 provincial budget, which caused a loss of Rp 1.152 billion.
He did so by disbursing the fund through a meeting of the provincial legislative council’s budget committee and required fund recipients to pay him between 60 and 70 percent of the funds they received.
Apart from the religious funds case, Riza is also on trial in another corruption case in the misappropriation of funds, for the purchase of sports equipment for the Central Java chapter of the National Sports Council (KONI), which allegedly caused Rp 1.1 billion in state losses.
Riza has also been tried in a drug case. Data at the Central Java Police’s drug directorate shows that Riza was arrested on Jan. 19, 2004, for drug use. He was arrested during a police raid at the Fanny Cottage hotel while on a methamphetamine spree.
Riza was tried at the Semarang District Court at the time and sentenced to two years in prison and a fine of Rp 1 million. Yet, he walked free immediately when the verdict was given because he had already been detained for the same period of time as the verdict stated.
In 2009, Riza was again arrested because of another illicit drug case and was sentenced to four months in jail. He appealed, and it was during this time of appeal that he was appointed Central Java Legislative Council deputy speaker for the 2009-2014 term of office.
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