At first glance, the room shown by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) in a video recording looked like a decent studio-type apartment, with air-conditioning, a television, a small refrigerator and a compact kitchen, as well as a bathroom equipped with a water-heater for the shower.
It turned out, however, that the room was actually a prison cell in Sukamiskin Penitentiary in Bandung, West Java, allegedly assigned to Fahmi Darmawansyah, a businessman convicted in 2017 in a corruption case pertaining to a Maritime Security Board (Bakamla) procurement project.
The luxurious prison cell was discovered by KPK investigators in their raid on the prison, where they arrested head warden Wahid Husein on suspicion of accepting bribes in exchange for the lavishly appointed prison cell.
“From our initial investigation, graft convicts can get such cells for between Rp 200 million [US$13,812] and Rp 500 million. They can get more facilities, such as a cellphone, at extra cost,” KPK deputy chairman Laode Muhammad Syarif said during a press briefing on Saturday.
The money was paid by the inmates before they got the facilities and it is not clear whether they had to make further payments.
Apart from Wahid, graft busters also arrested his subordinate, warden Hendry Saputra, as well as two inmates, namely Fahmi and Andri Rahmat. Andri was convicted in a separate criminal case connected to Fahmi's corruption case. The KPK has named all of them bribery suspects.
Wahid, who was only appointed as warden in March, allegedly accepted two luxury cars from Fahmi in exchange for the special facilities. Apart from the cars, he is also suspected of having accepted money from other inmates as investigators seized Rp 280 million and $1,410 in cash during the operation.
Hendry and Andri allegedly served as intermediaries for Wahid and Fahmi, respectively, in the handover of the cars. Investigators also found at least seven smartphones in Andri’s cell.
“During the investigation, we also came across allegations of abuse of medical-treatment permits. We’ve warned hospitals and doctors to act professionally in their work,” KPK deputy chairman Saut Situmorang said during the press briefing.
Inneke Koesherawati (left) and her husband, Fahmi Darmawansyah, sit in a trial hearing at the Jakarta Corruption Court last year. Fahmi was convicted in a case pertaining to a Maritime Security Board (Bakamla) procurement project. (Antara/Hafidz Mubarak A.)
Among those arrested was Fahmi’s wife, actress Inneke Koesherawati. She, however, was only questioned as a witness in the case and eventually released.
The well-appointed prison cell was not the first to be revealed in the Indonesian penal system, as in 2009 the Judicial Mafia Taskforce discovered a luxurious prison cell in Pondok Bambu Penitentiary, East Jakarta, equipped with special facilities, including a karaoke room and a baby play pen, enjoyed by businesswoman Artalyta Suryani, who was also convicted in a bribery case.
Misuse of medical permits has also been uncovered previously, as Tempo reported last year that a number of graft inmates including Anggoro Widjojo and Romi Herton had misused permits to attend medical appointments to get out of prison to meet relatives and even go shopping.
One of the most high-profile cases in recent years was that of Gayus Tambunan, a former tax official imprisoned for embezzlement, who was spotted watching a tennis tournament on Bali in 2010.
Leopold Sudaryono, a prison expert at the Asia Foundation, said graft convicts tended to use their economic and political leverage as capital in offering promotion to prison wardens in exchange for special facilities.
He said the Law and Human Rights Ministry had issued prison-management guidelines that emphasized security facilities like CCTV and procedures for securing prisoners such as codes of conduct. However, one aspect was often overlooked, he said, and that was prison personnel’s integrity.
He said several measures needed to be implemented in handling graft convicts, such as using ankle monitors to keep track of the convicts’ conditions and whereabouts as well as limiting the interaction between convicts and prison personnel.
In response to the arrests, the Law and Human Rights Ministry issued an apology and vowed to resolve the matter by instructing its inspectorate general to carry out an investigation.
“In parallel, we are conducting a total revitalization of our organization. It will be done comprehensively, we are working on the instruments and personnel,” said Sri Puguh Budi Utami, the ministry’s correctional affairs director general, during a press briefing on Saturday night.
“Should the revitalization fail, I will resign from my position,” she added. (evi)