Police Confirm Graft Suspect Bought Freedom

JAKARTA

Police admitted on Thursday that a tax official standing trial for corruption had bought his way out of detention, in the latest embarrassing case of detainees paying for special treatment.

Police said nine police officers were suspected of taking bribes ranging from around US$700 to $7,000 to allow former tax official Gayus Tambunan to slip in and out of prison.

Tambunan’s case is one of the graft-riddled country’s biggest corruption trials, involving millions of dollars in stolen tax funds and allegations of bribe-taking by top police and judges.

Media reports earlier this week said 31-year-old Tambunan, who had a salary of $200 a month but lived in a mansion, was spotted at a tennis tournament in Bali last weekend apparently wearing a wig and glasses to disguise his appearance.

Police eventually confirmed that he had bribed his way out of the lockup for days on end.

“Nine police have been named suspects for receiving bribes from Gayus. The bribes were to allow him to slip out of detention,” national police spokesman Iskandar Hasan said.

The police force is regarded by many as the most rotten institution in one of the most corrupt countries in the world.

Tambunan allegedly paid off a judge to secure an acquittal in an earlier corruption case.

A snap official inspection of a prison by members of a taskforce on judicial corruption confirmed earlier this year that well-heeled prisoners regularly make illegal payments to prison authorities for special treatment.

Even poor prisoners are expected to pay guards for favours in a thriving illegal economy based on extortion.

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