Ex-Minister Jailed for Seven Years for Corruption

JAKARTA ~ A special anti-corruption court in Jakarta has sentenced a former minister to seven years in jail for siphoning off more than US$1 million from his ministry’s coffers.

Former fisheries and marine affairs minister Rokhmin Dahuri – who was also fined $20,000 – was “proven guilty beyond any doubts of corruption,” Judge Mansyurdin Chaniago said as he delivered the verdict on Monday.

Dahuri’s lawyer Herman Kadir quickly said he would appeal the jail sentence, which was tougher than the six years asked for by prosecutors.

“The decision was unfair, the judges were emotional … they should not mix emotions into the verdict,” Kadir told ElShinta radio.

The case is part of an ongoing crackdown on graft by President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who was elected on an anti-corruption platform in 2004 but has been criticized for failing to produce significant results.

Watchdog Transparency International ranks Indonesia as one of the world’s most corrupt countries.

Prosecutors said Dahuri had siphoned off about Rp11.35 billion ($1.25 million) from his ministry, after telling senior staff members that he needed to raise funds for a contingency fund not included in the budget.

He then handed the money over to various political groups, government offices, lawmakers and political candidates.

The ex-minister also accepted about $265,000 in cash and gifts from companies linked to his ministry’s work, including a car.

Supporters of the former minister, mostly fishermen and their families, expressed outrage at the sentence, with some women crying when the verdict was read. Dahuri’s wife fainted, his lawyer said.

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