Rizky Amelia, Ezra Sihite &Markus Junianto Sihaloho
Antigraft officials confirmed on Thursday that they had named veteran opposition politician Emir Moeis as a graft suspect in a power plant project, a day after the news was controversially leaked by Deputy Justice Minister Denny Indrayana.
Bambang Widjojanto, a deputy chairman of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), said his office had already issued a warrant for investigating Emir, a legislator with the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), essentially making him a suspect.
He added that investigators were still considering what charges to bring against Emir, who could face between five and 20 years in prison for his alleged involvement in corruption in the Tarahan coal-fired power plant project in Lampung in 2004.
Bambang said Emir was believed to have taken a $300,000 kickback in relation to the power plant project, but declined to elaborate. He added that KPK investigators raided his home in South Jakarta on Thursday in connection with the case.
Bambang’s statement about Emir’s legal status comes a day after Denny confirmed that the KPK had sought a travel ban against him and also revealed that the request named the legislator as a suspect.
The leak by the deputy justice minister has riled Emir’s colleagues in the PDI-P, who called the move a politically motivated ploy.
“No matter how you see it, the Justice Ministry is a state institution whose officials can take a political stance, and therefore a political interest played a part in the announcement of the legal status,” Tjahjo Kumolo, the PDI-P secretary general, said on Thursday.
Justice Minister Amir Syamsuddin is a member of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party, while Denny was a former presidential adviser.
Tjahjo said the deputy minister had overstepped his authority in leaking the details from the KPK’s travel ban request.
“It was the KPK’s authority to announce it and it’s regrettable that it was infringed by a state official to justify his political views,” he said.
Pramono Anung, the House of Representatives deputy speaker from the PDI-P, said his party would fight what he called the politicization of Emir’s case.
Separately, Denny apologized to the KPK on Thursday for the leak, but defended his move, saying that the travel ban request filed with his ministry was not meant to be confidential.
“I wouldn’t have announced it if it was confidential,” he said.
He also said that he did not mean to disrupt the KPK’s investigation.
This is not the first time that Emir has been implicated in a corruption case. He was alleged to have taken a Rp 200 million ($21,000) bribe to vote for Miranda Goeltom as senior deputy governor of Bank Indonesia, also in 2004. He was also questioned in the case as a witness against Miranda, but has not been named a suspect.
He has also been implicated in a solar power plant project for the Manpower and Transmigration Ministry in which Rp 2.7 billion ($286,000) of the Rp 8.9 billion project cost was allegedly embezzled.
The legislator has denied any wrongdoing in both cases.