AGO Names More Suspects in Travelgate Case
Prosecutors on Wednesday named five more suspects in the travel expenses corruption case at the Ministry of Foreign Affairs, bringing the number of suspects to 10.
But a senior official insisted that no high-profile ministry figure would be implicated in the scandal.
The new suspects are from travel agencies that organized air tickets for diplomats traveling to and from overseas posts. Marwan Effendy, the deputy attorney general for special crimes, identified the suspects only by the initials N, H, T, D and J. Two of the suspects are reportedly president directors of their companies.
Marwan, however, said prosecutors had no intention of implicating former ministry secretary general Imron Cotan despite two people claiming the official, now ambassador to China, had taken Rp 2 billion ($220,000) and regular monthly payments of Rp 25 million from the ill-gotten funds.
“Imron was handed the money but he refused to accept it. His secretary didn’t return the money and kept it in the safe. We found the money during our search,” Marwan said. “His secretary is to blame. Why didn’t she return the money. It’s not Imron’s fault so we cannot name him as a suspect.”
Marwan insisted Imron could not be considered a suspect because only one witness had pointed a finger at him.
“There was testimony from Ade [Sudirman], which represents only a single evidence,” Marwan said, apparently referring to a legal principle that requires at least testimony from two people or evidence to file criminal charges.
Sudirman, also a suspect, has presented written testimony to investigators that he was instructed by his former superior at the ministry, financial bureau head Ade Wismar, to provide Rp 3 billion for Imron and a former foreign minister, and that he followed the order.
A second finance official in the ministry, Adang Sujana, has publicly said he prepared the money for Imron and the former minister in a cardboard box and that he regularly paid Imron Rp 25 million a month. But the Attorney General’s Office has never taken his remarks to the media into account.
It was the second time the AGO has used the excuse of finding suspect money in a safe for not filing corruption charges, after its decision to drop a graft case at the Indonesian Embassy in Bangkok after more than a year of investigation.
“We need to underline that returning the stolen money doesn’t wipe out the crime, as stipulated in the Anti-Corruption Law,” said Agus Sunaryanto, from nongovernmental group Indonesia Corruption Watch.
“We have evidence indicating Imron’s involvement in the case and we will hand it the AGO as soon as possible because they insist they are lacking evidence to charge him.”
The activist slammed prosecutors for putting the blame on low-level officials.
“I could understand when the internal investigation by the ministry’s inspectorate general tried to cover up things, but the AGO is a powerful law enforcement agency. It should have done better than the inspectorate,” he said.