Graft Fighter’s Appeal Is Rejected

JAKARTA

The Jakarta High Court has rejected an appeal by the country’s former anti-corruption chief against his 18-year jail sentence for murder.

Former Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) head Antasari Azhar, 56, was found guilty in February of masterminding the murder of businessman Nasrudin Zulkarnaen.

Azhar, an ex-prosecutor who claims he has been framed, argued that the district court had failed to prove a motive and had ignored key evidence.

But High Court chief judge Mochtar Ritonga said on Thursday that the lower court’s conviction had been upheld and Azhar had been “proven clearly and convincingly to have instructed the premeditated murder.”

The trial gripped Indonesia for months and raised troubling questions about judicial independence in a country where even President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono admits the courts are run by a “mafia” of corrupt prosecutors and “case brokers.”

Azhar led a series of successful corruption cases against officials, prosecutors, bankers and lawmakers during his time at the helm of the KPK from 2007 until his suspension in March last year.

His high-profile investigations were applauded as the country’s first genuine attempt to crack down on rampant corruption, but he claimed they also earned him powerful enemies.

Police said he arranged the drive-by shooting murder of Nasruddin on March 14 last year in order to stop the businessman exposing Azhar’s alleged affair with Nasruddin’s wife, a 22-year-old golf caddy.

Three other conspirators including a former senior police officer were also sentenced to between five and 15 years for their roles in the murder.

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