Indonesian court jails university don for corruption

Indonesian court jails university don for corruption
Former University of Indonesia (UI) deputy rector Tafsir Nurchamid

JAKARTA - In another gloomy passage for the country's higher education history, the Jakarta Corruption Court on Wednesday sentenced former University of Indonesia (UI) deputy rector Tafsir Nurchamid to two-and-a-half years in prison in a graft case surrounding IT infrastructure procurement for the university's library during 2010-2011.

"Our examination into the case has found the defendant guilty of corruption, together with other parties in the case," presiding judge Sinung Hermawan read from his verdict on Tafsir on Wednesday.

The court's panel of judges also ordered Tafsir to pay a fine of Rp 200 million (S$21,236) or serve an additional three months in prison.

Tafsir, who has a PhD in tax administration, was found guilty of abusing his power as UI deputy rector to appoint PT Makara Mas as the winner of the Rp 50 billion project without going through the proper mechanism.

He was also found guilty of unilaterally deciding on a Rp 50 billion budget for the procurement project, despite no consultation with the university's board of trustees.

"The budget decision did not go through proper discussions with the university's board of trustees," Sinung said.

The panel of judges concluded on Wednesday in their verdict that Tafsir had collectively abused his power with other people, namely UI public facility director Donanta Dhaneswara, PT Makara Mas director Tjahjanto Budisatrio, UI School of Engineering lecturer R. Jachrizal Sumabrata and PT Makara Mas manager Dedi Abdul Rahman Saleh.

The court found that PT Makara Mas had failed to procure all the items agreed in the contract. The KPK investigation also found that the company did not meet qualifications earlier set by the university.

Monday's sentence was lighter than the five years demanded by Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) prosecutors.

The KPK prosecutors also demanded the court order Tafsir to pay a Rp 500 million fine or be imprisoned for another five months.

KPK spokesman Johan Budi said the antigraft body was considering appealing the verdict as it was less than two thirds of the sentence demanded by prosecutors.

"We will study the verdict first. KPK leaders and investigators will soon discuss it before making a further move," Johan said Wednesday.

Johan emphasised that the KPK's investigation had not ended as it was still working to collect more testimonies from witnesses to confirm the roles of other people in the case.

"The investigation is still ongoing. Let's see how it progresses in the future," Johan said, without disclosing who would be the next suspects in the case, adding that disclosing further information could hamper the ongoing investigation.

It usually takes the KPK about two months to study a verdict before declaring other suspects in a graft case.

The antigraft body has questioned a number of people in this case, including Gumilar Rusliwa Somantri, UI's School of Dental Medicine lecturer Harun Asjiq Gunawan, UI lecturer Luki Wijayanti, UI School of Engineering lecturer Emirhadi Suganda and university staff member Baroto Setyono.

After questioning, Gumilar said he was aware of the IT installation project, and that he had received briefings about the project from Tafsir.

Tafsir's verdict came as another black mark in the country's higher education history after the recent arrest of Musakkir, a law professor from Makassar-based University of Hasanuddin, who was caught red-handed consuming crystal methamphetamine.

In Semarang, Joko Siswanto, a lecturer of Diponegoro University is currently facing trial for his alleged role in a corruption case for the construction of a sports stadium in Central Java.

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