The top judge at Indonesia’s Constitutional Court has been arrested on suspicion of bribery in the country’s latest high-profile graft scandal, an official said yesterday.
The nine-member Constitutional Court is as powerful as Indonesia’s Supreme Court and oversees cases reviewing constitutional law, and disputes over elections and the authority over state institutions.
Akil Mochtar, a court member since 2008 and the head judge since April, is the third high-ranking official arrested by the Corruption Eradication Commission this year. The alleged bribery that led to his arrest and that of four others is believed to be connected to disputed results in a district chief election, commission spokesman Johan Budi said.
The judge and two other suspects were taken from Mochtar’s house in the capital, Jakarta. They were caught “red-handed” and investigators seized cash totaling US$265,000, Budi said.
“The operation was based on information received some days earlier about a plan for the money delivery,” Budi told a press conference just after midnight. “The two suspects were believed to have handed over the money to Mochtar when captured.”
One of those arrested with Mochtar was Chairun Nisa, a legislator from the Golkar Party. The judge had been a lawmaker in the same party before his court selection in 2008.
The two suspects arrested at a Jakarta hotel include Hambit Bintih, incumbent chief of Gunung Mas District in Central Kalimantan, Budi said.
The district chief was re-elected on Sept. 4, but two competitors filed a lawsuit with the Constitutional Court, alleging that Bintih paid voters. Mochtar was a member of the three-judge panel handling the case.
Endemic graft in Indonesia has been blamed for deterring foreign investment.
In other cases this year, Rudi Rubiandini, head of the country’s oil and gas regulator, was arrested in August for allegedly receiving bribes worth up to US$700,000 from a private oil company.
In January, Luthfi Hasan Ishaaq, leader of the Islamic Prosperous Justice Party, was arrested on suspicion of accepting bribes to secure a government contract for a meat importer.