Dark days ahead for Atut in detention
Hans Nicholas Jong
The Jakarta Post
Banten Governor Ratu Atut Chosiyah was living large as the most powerful woman in her province, with a personal jogging track being built at her vast official residence in Serang.
But things changed after she was charged and detained following graft allegations by the nation's anticorruption body.
Atut, known for her penchant for branded accessories, was now locked up in a 4 meter by 6 meter room with capacity to hold 10 people, Deputy Law and Human Rights Minister Denny Indrayana said on Saturday.
Despite the limited confines of the holding cell, Atut has to share with 15 other detainees. 'With
Atut being there now, there are [a total of] 16 inmates [in that room],' Denny said, adding that there
was only one toilet inside the cell block.
Akbar Hadi Prabowo, spokesman for the penitentiary directorate general at the ministry, said that Atut was sharing the room with detainees charged with general crimes, such as theft and fraud.
He added, however, that Atut would soon be moved to another cell block as the current room was intended for fresh detainees to familiarize them with a prison's environment. 'The orientation period lasts for around seven days, depending on the condition of each newly arrived detainee.'
Atut's current living conditions are indeed a far cry from the lifestyle she used to enjoy.
She used to live in a rented house, provided by the provincial administration for Rp 250 million per year. She reportedly decided to live in the rented accommodation instead of her official residence as the construction work on the jogging track had not yet been completed.
The jogging track is located on a yard as large as a soccer field to the side of the house, which is flanked by 12 pillars ' a symbol of prosperity in Indonesia ' and 19 windows.
There were plans to establish a garden alongside the jogging track, complete with several man-made hills and small ponds.
As of Friday, construction workers were still dredging soil to make the hills.
According to the workers, Atut also planned to build a private car wash behind the house as an area where she would also store her plants.
The house has been perceived by many as a symbol of excess and greed in Atut's administration.
Atut allocated Rp 6 billion (US$600,000) from the provincial budget to spend on the interior of her official residence, while the provincial government had spent Rp 16.4 billion in total on the construction of the plush residence.
Media reports have also alleged Atut spent an additional Rp 45 million of taxpayers' money on medicine for her pet deer.
Meanwhile, the Banten branch of the Supreme Audit Agency (BPK) found that several items of furniture ' namely a table, a sofa, a projector and a carpet that, together, amounted to Rp 115 million ' had gone missing from the house.
Atut was detained on Friday after undergoing six hours of questioning by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK).
She appeared to be distraught by the knowledge she would be spending time in jail, as she seemed close to tears when she exited the KPK's headquarters in Kuningan, South Jakarta.
Atut's family spokesman, Fitron Nur Ikhsan, said her emotional state had improved after spending one night in the prison cell. 'We have received reports that she is calmer now. Yesterday [friday], she did indeed look shaken because her detainment process was really dramatic,' he said.
Fitron added that Atut's family was shocked by the fact she had been detained within four days of her being named a graft suspect.
A source within the KPK, however, said the commission had taken swift action due to the allegation that Atut had attempted to hamper its investigation into her alleged role as the mastermind behind a bribery attempt.
Atut allegedly instructed her brother, Tubagus 'Wawan' Chaeri Wardana, to bribe former Constitutional Court chief justice Akil Mochtar in exchange for a ruling in favor of Lebak Deputy Regent Amir Hamzah in an election dispute case being heard by the court.
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