Sunday, June 24, 2007

AGO plans graft verdict appeal

Thursday, June 14, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

Disappointed with the verdicts in two recent corruption cases, the Attorney General's Office (AGO) has said it will take further legal and administrative action to see that justice is done.

The Central Jakarta District Court on Tuesday exonerated Ali Mazi, the suspended Southeast Sulawesi governor, and former Hilton Hotel owner Pontjo Sutowo for their roles in an alleged land permit scam involving the Hilton Hotel, now the Sultan Hotel. Their actions allegedly caused Rp 1.9 trillion (US$206 million) in state losses.

"Although we respect the decision, we were deeply concerned and so disappointed," Kemas Yahya Rahman, the secretary to the junior attorney general for special crimes, told reporters Wednesday.

Kemas said the public prosecutor would appeal to a higher court because, in the AGO's opinion, all evidence had confirmed that Ali and Pontjo had committed an act of corruption.

"What they did has met the three criteria of corruption: committing an illegal act, enriching themselves and causing a loss to the state," Kemas said.

He explained that Ali and Pontjo had illegally obtained an extension for a building use permit for 13 hectares of state land at the Bung Karno Sports Complex for the hotel. According to the AGO, the permit was legally obtained for the period of 1973 to 2003, but was illegally extended in 1999.

The indictment claimed that Pontjo, the former director of PT Indobuildco, which managed the Hilton, asked then-lawyer Ali Mazi to help him obtain the building use permit from the National Land Agency despite not having received approval from the State Secretariat, which controlled the land.

"The extension of the building use permit was obtained without the State Secretariat's approval. That violated Article 22 of Government Regulation No. 40/1996 and also Article 4 of Regulation No.9/1999," Kemas said.

He added that Ali and Pontjo had collaborated with the former head of the Jakarta National Land Agency, Robert Jeffery Lumempeow, and the former head of the Central Jakarta National Land Agency, Ronny Kusuma Judistiro, who have also been named suspects in the case, to obtain the permit.

The AGO began investigating the case on Oct. 27 last year, when the Supreme Audit Agency found irregularities in an audit of state assets, including in the use of the Hilton's land.

Meanwhile, the AGO has discovered an error in the graft case involving Achmad Ali, a law professor and former dean of law at Hassanuddin University.

The indictment claimed that Achmad was involved in two separate cases that came under the jurisdiction of two laws. However, the prosecutor provided an incorrect time for the violation of the second law, Kemas said.

The error has caused the indictment to be declared legally null and void. (02)

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