Kupang, East Nusa Tenggara. In a daring escape, a defendant in a corruption case managed to flee from court minutes before his trial began on Monday.
Diarmanto, the former store room head of state procurement agency Bulog in Central North Timor district, fled by jumping over the Kupang Anti-Corruption Court’s back fence after his police escorts left him unguarded outside the court room.
It was not immediately clear if the guard deliberately allowed Diarmanto to flee, but police said they were still investigating.
Prosecutors and judges only became aware that Diarmanto, accused of embezzling 650 tons of rice belonging to Bulog, had fled when his own lawyer could not find him before the trial began.
“I asked the court officials where my client was. But when they went outside the court room to pick him up, he was already gone,” said Ali Antonius, Diarmanto’s lawyer.
According to Ali, his client had been in the court since early Monday morning, and that he was ready to hear his sentence demand.
“I was surprised at how a suspect could flee so easily from the court,” he said.
Diarmanto was detained last August after being accused of selling 650 tons of rice worth Rp 4 billion ($430,000) while he was assigned as store room head in Kefa.
He allegedly sold the rice to a third party and kept the money for himself.
Bulog officials were surprised to find that there was no rice in the store room after an impromptu stock inventory.
Officials subsequently reported Diarmanto to the Kupang prosecutor’s office.
Diarmanto fled to Timor Leste after being named a suspect in early 2011, but eventually surrendered to authorities.
“I hope he decides to surrender again so that he can avoid heavier sentence,” Ali said.
Prosecutors and court officials refused to comment on the case.