Four-year sentence for Banten governor condemned
The Jakarta Post
The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) blasted the Jakarta Corruption Court on Monday for handing down a 'lenient' four-year prison term to suspended Banten Governor Ratu Atut Chosiyah. Prosecutors had been demanding a 10-year sentence.
KPK deputy chairman Busyro Muqoddas said that the sentence was light given the damage Atut had inflicted on the country's judiciary by bribing former Constitutional Court chief justice Akil Mochtar, who was sentenced to life in prison for his role in the scheme.
Busyro described the verdict as a blow to the country's efforts to eradicate corruption.
'We will appeal against the verdict. She deserves a longer jail term; she has besmirched our democracy and our Constitutional Court. She has also insulted the people of Banten who gave her the mandate to lead them,' Busyro told The Jakarta Post on Monday.
Busyro added that it would not be easy for the Constitutional Court to win back the people's trust following the revelation of the bribery deal involving Atut and Akil.
Akil was arrested in October 2013 for accepting bribes from Atut's younger brother Tubagus Chaeri 'Wawan' Wardana, who earlier also received a sentence of four years in jail for his role in the case. Wawan was ordered by Atut to pay the bribe.
Indonesia Corruption Watch (ICW) condemned the verdict, describing it as 'heaven-sent' for Atut.
'It's very disappointing, The judges cut the jail term by 60 percent of what the prosecutors were demanding,' ICW researcher Emerson Yuntho said.
He added that the sentence was unlikely to deter others in Atut's Banten political dynasty, which has long been accused of mass corruption.
The KPK is currently building two further graft cases against Atut and Wawan, which could condemn the siblings to a maximum of 15 years behind bars.
A panel of judges at the Jakarta Corruption Court found Atut guilty of paying Rp 1 billion (US$85,353) in bribes to Akil through Wawan.
In addition to handing down the allegedly lenient sentence, judges at the Jakarta Corruption Court also rejected KPK prosecutors' demand to strip Atut of her political rights.
'The defendant has other graft cases currently being investigated by the KPK. The fact that she
has been found guilty in a bribery case has a special place in the public memory. The people of Banten
are smart ' they know who to vote for and who not to vote for in the next election,' presiding judge Matheus Samiadji said in the
verdict, explaining the panel's reasons for not stripping Atut of her political rights.
One of the five judges on the panel voiced a dissenting opinion, demanding that the court acquit Atut.
Responding to the verdict, Atut broke into tears and pledged that she would appeal against what she called an 'unfair' sentence.
'The verdict is devastatingly unfair. Four judges said that I was innocent and only one said I was guilty,' Atut claimed, having apparently failed to understand the verdict. She quickly corrected her statement: 'What the one [dissenting] judge said was true: I am innocent, I am just a victim in this case.'
Atut also apologized to the people of Banten and to her family, not for any wrongdoings that she had committed but for the 'unfair' verdict, insisting that she was not involved in the scheme to bribe Akil.
'I beg you to pray for me. I apologize to all the people of Banten and to my family. I am a victim in this scheme,' Atut said.
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