House of Atut on edge after bold KPK move
Hans Nicholas Jong
The Jakarta Post
The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has said that it will continue its investigation after naming Banten Governor Ratu Atut Chosiyah a suspect in a graft case and will now target other members of her powerful family.
KPK chairman Abraham Samad said on Tuesday that KPK investigators were looking for more evidence about the involvement of other individuals in various graft cases that had implicated Atut and her brother, Tubagus 'Wawan' Chaeri Wardana.
'We're not stopping here [after naming Atut a suspect], we're still investigating other cases related to regional election disputes,' he told a press conference at the KPK headquarters in Kuningan, South Jakarta.
Abraham added that KPK investigators were poring over every report on graft allegations against Atut's family members, who controlled the province she became deputy governor of in 2002.
Members of Atut's family control five of Banten's eight regencies and municipalities, namely her daughter in-law, Wawan's wife Airin Rachmi Diany, the South Tangerang mayor; her stepbrother Tubagus Haerul
Jaman, who serves as Serang's mayor; her sister Tatu Chasanah, the Serang deputy regent; and her stepmother Heryani, the Pandeglang deputy regent, all of whom are Golkar politicians.
The KPK named Atut a suspect on Tuesday for her role in the bribery case involving former Constitutional Court (MK) chief justice Akil Mochtar.
Atut, who is also Golkar Party deputy treasurer, was charged with Article 6 of Law No. 31/1999 on corruption for her alleged role in the bribery case.
Wawan was accused of paying Rp 1 billion (US$82,440) in bribes to Akil to favor Lebak deputy regent Amir Hamzah in an election dispute case handled by the court.
'In this case, Atut is suspected of collaborating with an individual who has earlier been named a suspect, TCW, in bribing [Akil],' Abraham said, referring to Wawan by his initials.
Soon after the arrest of Akil and Wawan, details emerged about Atut's meeting with the former chief justice in Singapore on Sept. 23, one day before the start of the Lebak election dispute trial, which was presided over by Akil.
In the disputed election, Atut backed Amir, who was nominated by the Golkar Party, and was running against Democratic Party (PD) candidate, Iti Octavia, daughter of Mulyadi Jayabaya, whose term as Lebak Regent expired in early 2013.
Wawan's lawyer Pia Akbar Nasution said that Atut initiated the Singapore meeting. Pia, however, denied that the meeting was held to discuss a bribery scheme, saying that Atut was only consulting with Akil on issues related to elections in general.
Atut's family lawyer Tubagus Sukatma, meanwhile, said that it was only a coincidence that his client was in Singapore at the same time as Wawan and Akil.
Sukatma said that Atut was in Singapore for medical reasons.
'It was only a coincidence, [the meeting] never happened,' Sukatma told reporters on Tuesday.
Apart from the bribery case, KPK investigators have also implicated Atut in a graft case surrounding the procurement of medical equipment in Banten.
'Due to evidence exposed last Thursday, we also have to name her a suspect [for the procurement of the medical equipment],' Abraham said.
The KPK, however, is yet to decide under what articles in the Corruption Law it plans to use to charge Atut with, therefore, it has not issued a formal letter ordering an investigation into her role in the case, according to him.
'I said not yet, I did not say that [Atut was named] a suspect [in the health project graft case],' Abraham said. Separately, Home Minister Gamawan Fauzi said that Atut would remain Banten's governor until she stands trial.
'Based on the Local Administration Law, a governor can be suspended only if he or she faces his or her first graft trial,' he said.
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