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Jakarta Post

After pretrial failure, ex-mayor gets four years for bribery

Haeril Halim
Jakarta   ●   Tue, March 1, 2016

The Jakarta Corruption Court on Monday sentenced former Makassar mayor Ilham Arief Sirajuddin to four years'€™ imprisonment after he was found guilty of pocketing Rp 5.5 billion in a scandal-ridden construction project for a local water company in the South Sulawesi city.

The panel of judges also found that Ilham, who lost a pretrial hearing against the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) in July, had handed PT Traya Tirta Makassar executive director Hengky Wijaya, the businessman who won the project, Rp 40.3 billion from the project fund.

Although his offenses involved tens of billions of rupiah, the court only ordered Ilham, a Democratic Party politician, to pay Rp 100 million in fines, in addition to Rp 150 million in restitution that the former mayor must return to the state.

An additional month in jail awaits Ilham should he fail to pay the fine, while the failure to return the restitution money to the state would be equal to another year in prison.

'€œIf within one year he does not pay the restitution then his assets will be confiscated. If his assets can not cover the amount then he will have to serve an additional one year jail term,'€ presiding judge Tito Suhut said during the sentencing.

The panel of judges found discrepancies between payments made by the company and the amount of money that the Makassar administration transferred to state coffers with regards to the construction of facilities for city-run tap water company PDAM.

The difference amounted to Rp 45.8 billion, of which Rp 5.5 billion was funneled to Ilham, while the remainder was enjoyed by Hengky, another suspect in the case who died last month due to complications from an illness.

The four year sentence was lower than the eight years demanded by KPK prosecutors last week.

The KPK'€™s prosecution team said it was considering filing an appeal with the Jakarta High Court to overturn the verdict and convince the panel of judges at the high court to sentence Ilham to eight years as demanded. The KPK said it would make the decision next week.

Meanwhile, Ilham'€™s lawyer Johnson Panjaitan said his client also wanted to file an appeal in the case because '€œthe court had no guts to free my clients from the charges'€.

'€œWe will make the decision in the near future,'€ Johnson said.

The KPK named Ilham a suspect in the case on May 7, 2014, the day he bid farewell to his subordinates at the Makassar administration on his last day as mayor.

On May 11, 2015, Ilham won a pretrial hearing against the KPK and managed to have the South Jakarta District Court annul his graft suspect status. The court controversially claimed that the KPK'€™s investigation into Ilham was invalid because it failed to present original investigation documents to back up its probe during the pretrial hearing.

The KPK renamed Ilham a suspect in June, only to have him file a second pretrial plea which was later rejected by the South Jakarta District Court in July.