Indonesian mayor, wife jailed for bribery

Indonesian mayor, wife jailed for bribery

A panel of judges at the Jakarta Corruption Court sentenced suspended Palembang mayor Romi Herton and his wife Masyito to six and four years behind bars, respectively, on Monday for committing perjury and bribing former Constitutional Court chief justice Akil Mochtar.

Romi and Masyito are the first couple to be jailed in a corruption case.

The court also ordered them to pay a fine of Rp 200 million (S$22,000) or face another two months behind bars.

"Our examination during the trial found the defendants guilty of perjury and corruption under the 1999 Corruption Law's Article 6 on bribery and Article 21 on perjury," presiding judge Supriyono said in court on Monday.

Article 6 carries a maximum 15 years behind bars, while Article 21 carries 12 years.

The verdict is lighter than the nine and six years, respectively, sought by Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) prosecutors for the husband and wife.

KPK prosecutors also demanded that Romi pay a Rp 400 million fine or serve another five months in prison, while for Masyito the KPK wanted a Rp 300 million fine or another four months behind bars.

The couple was found guilty of bribing Akil - who was sentenced to life in prison for accepting bribes from scores of regional heads including Romi - with Rp 20 billion in exchange for annulling the victory of Romi's rival, Samudra, in the 2013 Palembang mayoral election.

Masyito helped her husband to deliver the money to Akil through middleman Muhtar Ependy, who was sentenced to five years in prison by the same court last week.

On May 16, 2013, Romi, through his wife Masyito, gave Rp 12 billion and Rp 3 billion in US dollar-denominated cash to Muhtar.

Meanwhile, another Rp 5 billion was given to Akil after the Constitutional Court ruled to annul the victory of the winning candidate in the Palembang mayoral election.

In the ruling, Akil, who headed the panel of judges at the court, ordered a revote after accepting the bribe money.

The panel of judges at the Jakarta Corruption Court refused to revoke Romi's political right to run for office in the future as demanded by KPK prosecutors in their sentence demands read out last week.

The judges also found the couple to have given false testimonies during the trial of Akil in March 2014.

The court believed that the two lied under oath to prevent them from being implicated in the bribery case.

Responding to the verdict, Romi, through his lawyer Sirra Prayuna, said he would consider filing an appeal with the Jakarta High Court to challenge the sentence.

"We are considering taking legal steps [to challenge the verdict]," Sirra said after the hearing.

Former chief justice Akil was found guilty of accepting Rp 57 billion in bribes from a number of regional heads to influence decisions on election disputes during his tenure at the Constitutional Court.

The panel of judges at the Jakarta Corruption Court also found that Akil, formerly a member of the House of Representatives from the Golkar Party, had laundered Rp 160 billion during his term at the Constitutional Court and Rp 20 billion when he was at the House.

Other bribe payers who have been sentenced in Akil's case include former Banten governor Ratu Atut Chosiyah and her younger brother Tubagus Chaeri Wardana, who received five and four years behind bars, respectively.

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