Haeril Halim, The Jakarta Post, Jakarta | Headlines | Sat, February 01 2014, 10:09 AM
Disgraced former Constitutional Court (MK) chief justice Akil Mochtar admitted on Thursday to having asked a regional head to provide Rp 3 billion (US$246,000) in return for the court to rule in his favor in an election dispute.
Speaking publicly for the first time after his arrest last year, Akil told the Jakarta Corruption Court that he had asked Gunung Mas Regent Hambit Bintih to pay him if the latter wanted the court to reject a petition that was challenging Hambit’s victory.
He was at court to testify against the other suspects in the case: Hambit, Golkar Party lawmaker Chairun Nisa and businessman Cornelis Nalau Antun.
Akil, a former Golkar lawmaker, initially refused to confirm the allegation but finally gave in after being interrogated by the judges. “Did you want to help Hambit? Did you ask Chairun Nisa [to ask for the money from Hambit]?” presiding judge Pulungan asked him.
Akil responded emotionally: “Probably, yes. To make it easy, just read out the short text messages [written in the dossier].”
The judge read Akil’s SMS to Chairun: “[Tell Hambit] to prepare three tons of gold. It is a fixed price.”
At first, Akil said the message was just a joke for Chairun, but the judge pressed him: “What did you mean by three tons [of gold]?”
“Three tons [of gold] is Rp 3 billion. That was the price if he [Hambit] wanted my help,” Akil said,
Akil said Hambit had asked for his help through Chairun. “If he [Hambit] could pay Rp 3 billion, he would win in court,” he added.
However, Akil said he did not know if Hambit had agreed to his request following his last conversation with Chairun. “That’s the first time Chairun visited my house. She said she wanted to come and I said OK, but don’t arrive too late at night,” Akil said, adding he did not know whether Chairun and Cornelis had gone to his house to bring the money.
Chairun and Cornelis were caught by KPK investigators when delivering the money to Akil at his official residence in Jakarta in early October.
In the previous court session last week, Chairun said she had tried to bargain with Akil regarding the price as requested by Hambit. “Pak Hambit asked me to haggle, so I asked Pak Akil to please lower the amount to the price he charged in the Palangkaraya mayoral election, which was Rp 2 billion,” she said.
In her testimony, Chairun also alleged that Golkar secretary-general Idrus Marham and fellow Golkar lawmaker Mahyudin were the middlemen who passed the Rp 2 billion bribe from Palangkaraya Mayor Muhammad Riban Satia to Akil.
Judges then asked Akil whether he also rigged the result of Palangkaraya mayoral election.
Responding, Akil said: “That’s not true and it’s slander. I never communicated with the Golkar Party secretary-general.”
Akil will soon face trial as KPK investigators completed their investigation into his case on Wednesday.
He will be indicted for accepting bribes in connection with election disputes in the Lebak and Gunung Mas regencies and several other regencies. He will also be indicted for money laundering.
KPK spokesman Johan Budi said Akil also accepted bribes when handling election disputes in Empat Lawang, Central Tapanuli, South Lampung, Morotai Island and Buton. “Akil might have also accepted bribes regarding the East Java election,” Johan added.
The arrest of Akil has tarnished the credibility of the Constitutional Court, one of the most respected and important institutions in post-reform Indonesia. In the wake of the scandal, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono issued a regulation in-lieu of law to reform the court, containing a clause barring active politicians from running as the court’s justices.