Made Arya Kencana
Denpasar. The Denpasar District Court acquitted on Tuesday an Indonesian lawyer and his alleged Canadian accomplice of embezzling Rp 37.4 billion ($3.91 million) from the lawyer’s client.
The ruling came as a blow to prosecutors, who were seeking a three-and-a-half-year prison term for the pair.
The case began when a Briton, Nicholas John Hyam, was trying to purchase a plot of land in Munggu village, Badung, in 2005. Under to Indonesian law, a foreign national cannot purchase land directly.
Undeterred, Hyam contacted local lawyer Rizaldy D. Watruty, who had earlier processed a permit for foreign investors to build villas on the property.
As the permit was being processed by the local government, Rizaldy offered to buy the land on Hyam’s behalf for a $5,000 fee. The 28,700-square-meter lot, Rizaldy claimed, was worth Rp 1.3 million per square meter.
Hyam then returned to the UK and transferred Rp 37.4 billion to the lawyer, but Rizaldy failed to hand over the deed to the land. The Briton became irate after discovering that the land was worth only Rp 800,000 per square meter, and reported the case to the Bali Police, accusing Rizaldy of fraud and embezzlement.
Hyam also accused his Canadian partner, Jeanette “Gina” Machura, of being complicit in the crime.
But the court ruled that prosecutors had failed to prove the fraud and embezzlement charges against Rizaldy and Machura.
Outside the court, the defendants expressed their satisfaction with Tuesday’s ruling, while prosecutors said they would file an appeal.