Sunday, June 24, 2007

We have grounds to file graft case appeal: AGO

Friday, June 15, 2007
The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

The Attorney General's Office (AGO) is drafting a strategy to counter a verdict by the Central Jakarta District Court that has exonerated two men of major corruption charges.

Suspended Southeast Sulawesi governor Ali Mazi and business tycoon Pontjo Sutowo were initially found guilty of charges over a land permit scam involving the then Hilton Hotel.

"Based on evidence presented in the trial, what they (Ali Mazi and Pontjo) did has met all the criteria for corruption. But unfortunately they were exonerated from all the charges," Kemas Yahya Rahman, secretary to the junior attorney general for special crimes, said Thursday.

The AGO said Tuesday it would seek a Supreme Court appeal of the district court's verdict as it believed that Ali Mazi and Pontjo had illegitimately benefited from the extension of a building use permit for 13 hectares of state land at the Bung Karno Sport Complex in Central Jakarta for the then Hilton Hotel.

The office is claiming that the pair's actions caused the state to suffer Rp 1.9 trillion (US$206 million) in losses.

Kemas said Pontjo had offered the building use permit as collateral to Bangkok Bank branches in Singapore and Hong Kong for a Rp 2 trillion credit.

"If the collateral was confiscated by the Bangkok Bank, won't the state have suffered a loss? We uncovered this fact to show the public that we are seriously handling the corruption case," he said.

Kemas said the fact of the building use permit being used as collateral had been presented during court proceedings.

"We have accurately, clearly and completely explained it in the indictment. But perhaps the evidence did not fall into the judges' consideration," he said.

"Therefore, the Attorney General's Office has the right to appeal the case despite the two defendants having been exonerated by the Central Jakarta District Court." (02)

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