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Indonesian lawmaker jailed for 4 years for corruption
Publication Date : 11-01-2013
In an anticlimactic end to a graft trial, the Jakarta Corruption Court on yesterday sentenced Democratic Party lawmaker Angelina “Angie” Sondakh to four-and-a-half-years in jail and ordered her to pay a fine of 250 million rupiah (US$ 26,000) for corruption.
The panel of judges found the former beauty queen guilty of accepting 2.5 billion rupiah and $1.2 million from the Permai Group, a holding company owned by Muhammad Nazaruddin, a former Democratic Party treasurer.
“It has been proven that [the defendant] received 2.5 billion rupiah and $1.2 million. The money, from the Permai Group, was paid to secure budget allocation at the Education and Culture Ministry,” presiding Judge Sudjatmiko said, reading out the verdict.
The verdict was far more lenient than the sentence demanded by the prosecutors who sought 12 years for Angelina, a member of the House of Representatives (DPR) budgetary committee.
In an earlier trial, prosecutors accused her of accepting a total of 33 billion rupiah— comprising 12.58 billion rupiah and $2.35 million, paid in several installments — from the Permai Group to secure its budget allocation for projects at the Education and Culture Ministry and the Youth and Sports Ministry.
On Thursday, the court found Angelina guilty of directly and indirectly accepting only 2.5 billion rupiah and $1.2 million.
In addition, the judges did not order Angelina to return even one rupiah to the state, saying that the bribes “were not state money as they came from the Permai Group [a private company].”
Regarding the amount mentioned in the previous session, the prosecutors had failed to prove how much money she received, Judge Marsuddin Nainggolan said.
“Budget allocation is not Angelina’s exclusive authority. It is the collective authority of the budget committee,” he concluded. “Budget committee [members] cannot stand alone.”
When presiding Judge Sudjatmiko handed down the verdict, Angelina burst into tears. But, this time she looked relieved.
Angelina’s emotional closing statement in a previous hearing apparently worked well as the judges saw her achievements as mitigating factors.
Last week, Angelina begged the court not seize her house, saying that it belonged to her fatherless children. She also highlighted her achievements, including singing, speech-writing and science during her childhood and pointed out the titles that she had won in a number of beauty contests, including Miss North Sulawesi and Miss Puteri Indonesia.
She also relayed to the judges her achievements as a representative at a Harvard University conference on orangutans and the Asia-Pacific Women’s Parliament.
She even tried to create drama in the courtroom by introducing the judges to her two stepdaughters — a 10-year-old and a 12-year-old — who were sitting near her at the visitors’ bench.
The two stepchildren did not appear in the courtroom yesterday but their birth mother, pop singer Reza Artamevia — once married to Angelina’s late husband — came to the trial to show her support.
The demand for a 12-year sentence was unfair as Angelina did not ask for bribes, said her lawyer, Teuku Nasrullah, in his closing argument last week, adding that prosecutors had failed to prove that Angelina had accepted the 33 billion rupiah in bribes.
Despite the defeat, the KPK said they appreciated the sentencing and would use it to inform investigations into the case.
“Although the judges used Article 11, the judges still found Angelina guilty of accepting money, which was in line with our allegations against her,” KPK spokesperson Johan Budi said at his office after the trial. “We will find other players.”
He declined to mention one name in particular.
Facts had emerged in previous trial sessions that indicated Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle lawmaker I Wayan Koster had also accepted money.
Separately, Democratic Party deputy secretary-general Saan Mustopa said that the party would welcome Angelina back despite the latter’s earlier bitter statement regarding her experience in politics.
Angelina Sondakh: Case time line
Feb 3, 2012
Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) names Angelina a suspect in the SEA Games scandal, asks for travel ban on lawmaker.
April 27, 2012
KPK detains Angelina after hours of questioning
Sep 6, 2012
Angelina’s trial begins for graft involving budget allocations at two ministries.
Dec 20, 2012
Prosecutors demand that Angelina be sentenced to 12 years imprisonment and return billions of rupiah in alleged bribes.
Jan 10, 2013
Corruption Court finds Angelina guilty, sentencing the lawmaker to four-and-a-half-years imprisonment and to pay a 250 million rupiah fine.