JAKARTA - Former Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) leader and graft suspect Luthfi Hasan Ishaaq has refused to divulge the identity of Bunda Putri, a mysterious woman linked to the beef import graft case, only saying that she is an influential figure among the country's political elites.
Luthfi took the stand in the trial of his aide, Ahmad Fathanah, and testified that the woman whom he identified as Bunda Putri was no stranger to President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono. "Bunda Putri is very close to SBY and she knows about the [Cabinet] reshuffle," he told the panel of judges at the Jakarta Corruption Court in Kuningan, South Jakarta.
Bunda Putri is reportedly an alias for Non Saputri, the wife of the ministry's horticulture director general, Hasanuddin Ibrahim. She reportedly has close ties to high-ranking officials and the clout to pull strings in the government.
When asked whether Bunda Putri is Non Saputri, Luthfi told the judges that he did not know.
According to Luthfi, he was introduced to Bunda Putri by PKS religious council leader Hilmi Aminuddin because she was believed to have information on the looming cabinet reshuffle, in which it was rumored that one of the three PKS ministries would be ousted from the cabinet.
Therefore, he paid a visit to Bunda Putri's house in Pondok Indah in South Jakarta one day after Fathanah was arrested by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) to confirm the matter, he added.
"I was worried that there might be a reshuffle due to the news circulating in the media. I needed her to confirm whether there would be a reshuffle," Luthfi said, adding that he was not talking about the arrest of Fathanah with Non.
Luthfi said that he trusted Bunda Putri because Hilmi told him that she was the one who always acted as a liaison for several boards of advisors of different political parties in the country.
When asked whether Bunda Putri's husband was a state official, he said that he did not know. "From what I've heard, she is single now because she is divorced or her husband has died. And [the husband] is a foreigner. From what I know, he runs a business abroad."
According to Bernaldi Djemat, who was married to Non's daughter Peni Farnita Saputri in 2006, Non's first husband was a French national. Her first husband, however, had passed away in 2000, he added.