Rule No. 1: If You Are a Graft Fugitive, Don’t Go Visit the Prosecutor
It would seem obvious that if you need to lie low, you shouldn’t go around loudly complaining — something a former official in the eastern province of Maluku failed to keep in mind.
The former deputy chief of Southeast Maluku district, Lukas Uwuratuw, had been wanted on suspicion of corruption linked to the provision of six fishing boats for the district maritime affairs and fisheries office in 2002. After repeatedly ignoring summonses from the local prosecutor’s office, Lukas was named a suspect three years later, but he disappeared.
Then on Thursday, Lukas suddenly appeared at the Attorney General’s Office in Jakarta, and was promptly arrested, ending a five-year search.
“Our intelligence had been tracking his whereabouts. By coincidence, he came to the AGO to report a case, so we nabbed him,” AGO spokesman Didiek Darmanto said. “In a Javanese proverb, it’s called the snake coming to the [forked] stick.”
Lukas’s lawyer, Herman Laturete, said: “Lukas was at the AGO to report a local [Maluku] prosecutor named Vitalis Teturan for allegedly selling boats worth Rp 14 billion. But when he was preparing to meet the deputy attorney general for internal supervision, he was arrested for a different case.” Herman protested the arrest and threatened to file a legal motion.
The corruption scandal involving Lukas is believed to have caused an estimated state loss of Rp 2.7 billion ($300,000) because the boats, bought using the district budget, turned out to be in disrepair and were never operated. They eventually sank, Didiek said.
“The case was without settlement for a long time because the suspect refused to cooperate. He didn’t meet at least five summonses by local prosecutors,” he said.
Two other suspects in the same case were the head of the district maritime affairs and fisheries office, Piet Norimarna, and the project leader, Franky Hitipeuw. They have been detained and will soon face trial together.
“A corruption case requires financial losses to the state,” Herman said. “No state auditors or independent accounting firms have been involved to determine the loss. That’s why Lukas refused to be interrogated.”