Rizky Amelia, Markus Junianto Sihaloho & SP/Novianti Setuningsih
The graft charges against Neneng Sri Wahyuni may center around a relatively minor case, but her arrest has drawn national attention because of the possibility that she has information that some analysts contend could bring down high-profile politicians.
Just hours after her arrest, the country’s top lawyers raced to offer their services to Neneng, the wife of graft convict Muhammad Nazaruddin, who is seen as the linchpin in a series of graft cases in which members of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s Democratic Party are mired.
Those implicated include party chairman Anas Urbaningrum and Youth and Sports Affairs Minister Andi Mallarangeng.
Elsa Syarief, Rufinus Hutauruk, Hotman Paris Hutapea and Junimart Girsang, all among the country’s leading defense lawyers, are bidding to represent Neneng.
“She wants to discuss with her husband first before deciding on a lawyer,” said Johan Budi, the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) spokesman.
Neta S. Pane, chairman of Indonesia Police Watch, said on Thursday that Neneng was key to uncovering the players in the bid-rigging case behind the Rp 1.2 trillion ($127 million) Hambalang sports center.
“The attention she’s getting from legislators, lawyers and officials shows how important she is,” he said.
He said she could also be instrumental in probing a similar rigged bid to build the Southeast Asian Games athletes’ village, for which Nazaruddin was convicted earlier this year. Nazaruddin has accused Anas of receiving kickbacks from both projects, but Anas has repeatedly denied the claim.
Yudhoyono, the Democrats’ chief patron, has been seen trying to distance the rest of the party from Anas and Andi through his remarks calling for a purge of corrupt members, but will do nothing until they are named suspects, says Fachry Ali of the Indonesian Institute of Sciences (LIPI).
“Yudhoyono will not make any sudden moves that will disrupt the harmony of the party. The gathering on Tuesday and Wednesday was meant to consolidate the party rather than sack Anas. Unless Anas is a supect, he will stay,” Fachry said.
Meanwhil, Neneng’s arrest has taken on a transnational dimension, as the KPK has declared the two Malaysians arrested with her as suspects. Malaysian Ambassador Dato Syed Munshe Afdzaruddin Bin Syed Hassan has denied reports that they were Malaysian government officials.