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Fugitive former lawmaker returns to Indonesia

Last Updated: Sunday, August 14, 2011 - 12:48

Jakarta: A former Indonesian lawmaker returned on Saturday after three months as a fugitive to face corruption charges in a case that has riveted the nation and tested its reputation in fighting graft.

Muhammad Nazaruddin, the governing Democratic Party`s former treasurer, was captured last week in Colombia after fleeing Indonesia three months ago. He has denied charges that he accepted $3 million in bribes from a company contracted to build an athletes` village for this year`s Southeast Asian Games.

Before his extradition, Nazaruddin called local newspapers and TV news stations to say he was ready to expose corruption elsewhere within the governing party.

The case — which underlines Indonesia`s challenge in changing its graft-ridden image — has threatened the credibility of the party`s founder, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, whose 2009 campaign for re-election presented him as the "Mr Clean" of Indonesian politics.

Hundreds of people have been arrested for alleged corruption since Yudhoyono took office, though critics note high-ranking officials have largely been left alone.

Nazaruddin was immediately taken into custody after landing in Jakarta on a flight from Bogota, the Anti-Corruption Commission said. The president has ordered that Nazaruddin receive full protection, while authorities investigate the Games scandal. No trial date has been set.

Indonesia emerged only recently from a 32-year dictatorship under Gen. Suharto, whose family was accused of corruption to the tune of $600 million.

Bureau Report

First Published: Sunday, August 14, 2011 - 12:48
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