JAKARTA: Indonesia’s former social affairs minister was jailed for 12 years on Monday (Aug 23) for taking up to US$1.2 million in bribes linked to food aid for poor families hit by the COVID-19 pandemic.
A Jakarta court handed out the sentence to Juliari Batubara following his December arrest. A sting operation had turned up more than US$1 million in cash stuffed into suitcases, backpacks and envelopes.
“The court sentences the defendant to 12 years in prison and orders him to pay 500 million rupiah (US$35,000) in fines or serve six more months in prison,” presiding judge Muhammad Damis told the hearing, which was held virtually for virus safety reasons.
The former politician was also ordered to pay the equivalent of about US$1 million in restitution, or face an additional two years in prison, the court said.
Juliari, who has denied wrongdoing, will also be banned from public office for four years after serving his prison term.
His lawyer Maqdir Ismail described the sentence, which was one year longer than investigators had demanded, as too harsh and said they were considering whether to appeal.
Batubara would take cash from two contractors hired to supply basic food packages for Indonesians hit hard by the health crisis, the court heard earlier.