Atut ready to step down

Haeril Halim, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | National | Sat, January 04 2014, 9:33 AM

Banten Governor and graft suspect Ratu Atut Chosiyah said through her lawyer that she was ready to hand power to her deputy Rano Karno and that she was currently waiting for a formal letter of suspension from the Home Ministry.

The governor is facing mounting calls for her to quit her post following her arrest by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) on allegations that she helped bribe a top Constitutional Court justice in relation to an election dispute in Lebak.

“We have yet to receive any letter from the Home Ministry. If we receive the letter, she will voluntarily hand over the authority to [her deputy],” Atut’s lawyer Tubagus Sukatma said at KPK headquarters on Friday, adding that Atut did not want her arrest to disrupt government processes in Banten.

Meanwhile, he said that the Home Ministry could only send the letter as soon as Atut stands trial. “That’s the problem. She has actually always been ready for it [to face her suspension],” he added.

Previously, Home Minister Gamawan Fauzi said that his office would consider suspending Atut from her position if the KPK filed a request recommending her suspension. This means that Home Ministry will suspend Atut without having to wait for her case to be brought to the Court.

Gamawan made the remarks in response to KPK deputy chairman Bambang Widjojanto’s statements, which said that the anti graft body would soon send a letter requesting Atut’s suspension to the Home Ministry.

Bambang said that if graft suspects are not suspended from their positions, they could use their power to eliminate evidence or to influence witnesses. “They [any graft suspects who are still in power] can arrange or discourage people to become witnesses,” he added.

Contacted separately on Thursday, Reydonnyzar Moenek, a staffer at the Home Ministry, said that the ministry had prepared the process of transferring power from Atut to Rano.

“The letter has been prepared and will be sent [to Atut and the KPK]. But we need authorization from the KPK first [before Atut can sign the letter],” he told The Jakarta Post on Thursday.

According to Moenek, the authorization is required for the Banten legal bureau to visit Atut to ask for her signature needed for the letter to take effect.

After the letter was signed, Rano would assume Atut’s role in governing the province, he added.

“But there was one authority that Atut still possessed, the authority to mutate, rotate, promote and dismiss officials at the administration,” Moenek said.

He said that the power transfer was needed to ensure that the regional administration was not compromised by Atut’s detention.

With the power transfer, there was no need for Atut to be dismissed before she stood trial for her alleged role in the bribery case implicating former Constitutional Court chief justice Akil Mochtar, according to Moenek.

“Until she stands trial, just let it be [her status as governor while Rano assumes her role],” he said.

The KPK said that it detained Atut just days after she was named a suspect in two graft cases because it suspected that Atut was attempting to hamper the investigation by influencing witnesses.

On Friday, the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Centre (PPATK) chairman M Yusuf said that his office had found a number of suspicious transaction on Atut’s bank accounts totaling millions of rupiah.

“Every transaction reaches tens of millions or even hundreds of millions of rupiah. If we add up all of them the total may reach billions,” Yusuf said on Friday.

He said that he had submitted the report on Atut’s suspicious bank accounts with the KPK on Sept. 25, 2013.

He added that the transfer of money in Atut’s bank accounts came from various sources, individuals and corporations.


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