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Jakarta Post

KPK locks up senior Dems politician

KPK locks up senior Dems politician
Haeril Halim
Jakarta   ●   Wed, May 6, 2015

Holding court: Former energy and mineral resources minister Jero Wacik (center) talks to reporters after his arrest by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) in Jakarta on Tuesday. JP/Wendra Ajistyatama

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) detained on Tuesday former energy and mineral resources minister Jero Wacik, who is also a senior Democratic Party politician, after eight hours of questioning in a high profile corruption case that forced him to resign from his ministerial post in September last year.

The KPK moved to detain Jero on Tuesday after he had failed to meet four KPK summons since April. After the KPK sent its first summons, Jero argued that the antigraft body must wait for the South Jakarta District Court'€™s decision on his pretrial motion.

Jero, however, was left with no excuse after the court rejected his pretrial plea on April 29.

Jero donned the mandatory KPK orange graft suspect vest as he was led out of KPK headquarters and transported to the Cipinang Detention Center in East Jakarta in a KPK detention van on Tuesday night.

'€œHe will be detained for the next 20 days to prepare the completion of his dossiers.'€ KPK spokesman Priharsa Nugraha said on Tuesday night, adding that the detention could be extended up to 90 days.

Priharsa said KPK investigators detained Jero as he was considered uncooperative during questioning and could destroy evidence or flee the country during the ongoing investigation.

Meanwhile, Jero described his detention as unjust because '€œI have so far been cooperative in helping KPK investigators solve the case'€, adding that he refused to sign the arrest warrant on Tuesday.

Jero also maintained that he would not flee the country if he was allowed to remain free.

'€œI am not going to flee the country nor make efforts to destroy evidence. I have requested detention postponement to no avail. I am helpless in my pursuit of justice. Therefore, I call on President Joko '€˜Jokowi'€™ Widodo and Vice President Jusuf Kalla to help me get released,'€ Jero said before entering the KPK van.

Jero also called on his party patron, former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, to come to his aid.

'€œI also beg former president Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono [the Democratic Party chairman] to help me. I don'€™t know what to do in this kind of situation,'€ Jero said.

The KPK charged Jero with corruption for allegedly instructing his subordinates to collect cash amounting to around Rp 10 billion (US$765,700) from procurement-project kickbacks, ministry budget mark-ups and bogus programs between 2011 and 2013 when serving as energy minister.

He allegedly used around Rp 2 billion of the money to pay Indopos daily for printing stories that could be regarded as '€œpersonal branding'€, while the rest of the money was spent on funding his personal activities as well as allegedly paying for his wife'€™s shopping for luxury items abroad.

Jero was named a suspect in September 2014 for alleged corruption.

In February this year, the KPK slapped another corruption charge against Jero for allegedly committing the same offenses during his tenure as culture and tourism minister by collecting a total of Rp 7 billion between 2008 and 2011.

Jero was forced to give up his House of Representatives seat in October after the KPK warned the General Elections Commission (KPU) that going ahead with his inauguration as a House lawmaker would hurt the country'€™s fight against corruption.

Jero'€™s name has been mentioned in several other graft cases plaguing the energy ministry, Upstream Oil and Gas Regulatory Special Task Force (SKKMigas) and House Commission VII overseeing energy and natural mineral resources. But, his status in those cases remains as a witness.