Indonesian ex-minister arrested for graft

Indonesian ex-minister arrested for graft
Indonesia's former sports and youth minister Andi Mallarangeng (L) is escorted by guards at the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) in Jakarta following his arrest.

JAKARTA - Former sports minister Andi Mallarangeng has finally been detained by Indonesia's Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), 10 months after being named a graft suspect.

He faces graft charges related to the construction of the 2.5 trillion rupiah (S$275 million) sports centre in Hambalang, East Java. He resigned last December, the first sitting Cabinet minister to have done so over corruption allegations.

Mallarangeng's arrest on Thursday ends months of speculation that a backroom deal involving the ruling Democrat Party was being struck.

But it has raised expectations that the party's former chairman Anas Urbaningrum, who is implicated in the same case, will be arrested soon.

The case has soiled the party's name ahead of national elections next year, with its popularity rating falling.

Mallarangeng's arrest also comes weeks after a high-profile bust of top court judge Akil Mochtar, accused of accepting bribes to fix the outcome of election disputes, as an eager KPK takes on influential personalities and vows to solve high-profile cases to prove to critics it is not a toothless watchdog.

Emerging after a six-hour interrogation in the KPK building yesterday, a visibly subdued Mallarangeng told reporters: "I accept this as a process to speed up the conclusion of this case. My hope is that it will be a fair trial - whatever is wrong will be exposed and whatever isn't wrong will also be exposed." He has denied all allegations.

His brother Rizal said: "We will refute with facts to prove that Andi is not guilty."

KPK spokesman Johan Budi estimated that the state lost 470 million rupiah to graft in the sports complex whose tender process has been questioned. Mallarangeng's name surfaced earlier last year after the Democrats' former treasurer Muhammad Nazaruddin accused him and his brother Choel of receiving 20 billion rupiah for the project.

Testimony from Nazaruddin, now serving a four-year jail term for rigging tenders and accepting kickbacks, has led to the conviction of the Democrat Party's former deputy secretary-general Angelina Sondakh for accepting kickbacks and abusing her authority to influence tenders in another sports project.

Other than Mr Anas, the KPK has named two other suspects in the same case: former state-owned construction firm director Teuku Bagus Mokhamad Noor and former Youth and Sport Ministry financial controller Dedy Kusdinar.

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