Indonesia detains Islamic party chief over graft

JAKARTA - Indonesia's anti-graft agency has arrested the head of the country's largest Islamic-based party, which is part of the coalition government, on suspicion of corruption, its spokesman said Thursday.

The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) said Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) chairman Luthfi Hasan Ishaaq allegedly accepted a sum of one billion rupiah (S$125,000) from meat importer PT Indoguna Utama to secure a government contract.

After questioning him since late Wednesday, "KPK investigators have formally detained" him on Thursday night, KPK spokesman Johan Budi told reporters.

"His alleged role is as a recipient of bribes in relation to beef imports," he said, adding: "It's suspected one billion rupiah was for Luthfi Hasan Ishaaq."

The Prosperous Justice Party has three ministers in President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's cabinet.

The detention of the PKS chairman could complicate matters for the party and ruling coalition in the run up to the 2014 general election.

Yudhoyono's second presidential term, won on a fervent corruption-fighting platform, has been dogged by investigations into several members of his Democratic Party and coalition government.

Communication and Information Technology Minister Tifatul Sembiring of the Prosperous Justice Party said Thursday on Twitter that his party "respects the legal process" that is underway.

"We hope the process will take place in a just and honest manner based on prevailing laws and not influenced by political pressure," he tweeted.

The Prosperous Justice Party was founded after the 1998 fall of the Suharto dictatorship.

It has become the country's fourth-biggest party overall due partly to its clean and pious image in the most populated Muslim country in the world, of around 240 million people.

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