Top Indonesia policeman guilty of graft, could pave way for more arrests

JAKARTA - An Indonesian court sentenced a top police general to 10 years in jail on Tuesday for money-laundering and corruption in a major victory for the country's main anti-graft agency.

The conviction of two-star police general Djoko Susilo, who amassed a fortune worth US$18 million (S$23 million) while serving as Indonesia's top traffic policeman, is the first of an active senior police officer by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and could pave the way for a broad campaign against police corruption.

The police are viewed as one of the most corrupt institutions in Indonesia and cleaning up a culture of graft is seen as critical to improving the country's image with investors.

"This is KPK's biggest case that has been resolved so far in regards to the total value of assets," Bambang Widjojanto, the commission's deputy head, told reporters after the verdict.

"This is the first, and maybe this is not going to be the last."

Former National Traffic Police deputy Didik Purnomo has also been charged in the case but has yet to go on trial.

Susilo was found guilty of accepting kickbacks in the awarding of a contract for driving simulators while he was head of the National Police Traffic Corps.

Susilo, who denied wrongdoing, planned to appeal, his lawyer told the court.

While foreign investment pours into the resource-rich country, there is growing concern that rampant corruption and an incompetent bureaucracy could throttle growth and begin to scare off investment.

A stream of high-profile graft cases, the most recent being one involving the head of the energy regulator, has tarnished President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono's final term.

During KPK's investigation of Susilo, officials found that he had amassed US$18 million worth of assets including land, cars and mansions, which he tried to hide under the names of his three wives.