INTERNATIONAL

Former Speaker Gets 15 Years In Jail For Corruption

Indonesia’s former parliament speaker was handed a 15-year prison term on Tuesday in one of the country’s harshest sentences for graft, marking a victory for its clamp-down on widespread corruption.

Setya Novanto, once among the country’s most influential politicians, had been accused of taking millions in kickbacks and bribes linked to the national roll-out of government ID cards.

“We have found defendant Setya Novanto, beyond reasonable doubt, guilty of violating anti-corruption law,” presiding Judge Yanto told the packed Jakarta courtroom.

Novanto, who showed little reaction to the sentence, said he would “need time” to consider an appeal.

His months-long trial came after a string of manoeuvres — including allegedly faking an injury in a car crash — that critics say the 62-year-old used to dodge serious charges.

Prosecutors had demanded a 16-year sentence.

Judge Yanto, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, also fined Novanto 500 million rupiah ($36,000), far less than the $7.4 million prosecutors had wanted him to pay as restitution to the state.

Novanto, who had managed to sidestep corruption allegations in the past, was accused of playing a key role in embezzlement from the $440 million ID card project, with some $170 million disappearing from state coffers.

Several other politicians, government officials and businessmen have been charged in the scandal.

The scope of the claims shocked many Indonesians even by standards of one of the world’s most corrupt countries, where payoffs and bribes are rife at all levels of society and endemic in many state agencies, including the police force.

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