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Top Indonesia judge arrested on suspicion of graft

Thursday - 10/3/2013, 3:40am  ET

ALI KOTARUMALOS
Associated Press

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) -- The top judge on Indonesia's Constitutional Court has been arrested on suspicion of bribery in the country's latest high-profile graft scandal, an official said Thursday.

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 four others is believed to be connected to disputed results in a district chief election, said commission spokesman Johan Budi.

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 $265,000, Budi said.

"The operation was based on information received some days earlier about a plan for the money delivery," Budi told a news 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 from 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 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 the other recent cases, Rudi Rubiandini, head of the country's oil and gas regulator, was arrested in August for allegedly receiving bribes worth up to $700,000 from a private oil company.

In January, Luthfi Hasan Ishaaq, leader of the Islamic-based Prosperous Justice Party, was arrested on suspicion of accepting bribes to secure a government contract for a meat importer.


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