The Jakarta Post
Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) prosecutors have rejected a defense statement by former Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) chairman Luthfi Hasan Ishaaq.
On Monday the PKS told the Jakarta Corruption Court to proceed with the hearing.
The KPK believe they have a strong case against Luthfi, contradicting claims from Luthfi's defense team that they trumped up charges against the former PKS politician.
In its rebuttal to Luthfi's claims, the KPK firmly rejected Luthfi's statement that the antigraft body had framed him as part of a plot to weaken the PKS.
One of KPK prosecutors, Muhibbudin said during the Monday session that Luthfi had failed to provide any evidence of a political plot behind his arrest.
'We are not trying to frame anyone or any political parties, but fighting against corruption,' he said.
Another KPK prosecutor, Avni Carolina, called on the judge to reject the 76-page defense statement for its weak arguments.
Last week, Luthfi's lawyers said that prosecutors had failed to build a case against their client because they had not pinpointed Luthfi's exact role in the bribery.
Avni also said prosecutors had no obligation to provide evidence for Luthfi's role in the scandal as they could shift the burden of proof to the defendant, as stated in the United Nations Convention against Corruption ratified through Law No. 7/2006 on corruption.
On Monday, Luthfi's lawyer Mohamad Assegaf, stuck to his guns, saying that the KPK prosecutors failed to build a strong argument to support their case. He then questioned how the prosecutors could involve Luthfi in an effort to persuade Agriculture Ministry Suswono to raise the beef quota, when in fact the decision to raise the quota could only be made through discussion with other ministers, including the Trade Minister and Coordinating Minister for the Economy.
Assegaf also insisted that prosecutors should not bring money laundering charges against his client as they are not directly related to beef importation.
'Any money laundering case should be derived from the original corruption case. In this case, my client had not even received the alleged bribe of Rp 1.3 billion (US$131,300), so how could they charge him with the crime?' Assegaf said.
Also on Monday, Luthfi's aide Ahmad Fathanah, who allegedly received the Rp 1.3 billion bribe from beef importers PT Indoguna Utama, also appeared in court to hear the prosecutors' response to his defense statement.
His defense statement was also rejected by the prosecutors.
Meanwhile, university student Maharani Suciyono, who was arrested with Fathanah at a hotel by KPK investigators, arrived at KPK headquarters for another round of questioning.
Fathanah said he had nothing to do with the probe of Maharani.
'Whether she is summoned or not, it is the authority of KPK. It is really up to KPK to do whatever they want with her,' he said. (koi)