Fugitive former lawmaker returns to Indonesia
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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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