Indonesian ex-ruling party chairman jailed for graft

 The former chairman of Indonesia`s ruling party was jailed for eight years for corruption Wednesday, the latest in a series of graft cases that have cast a shadow over the final years of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono`s decade in power.

AFP| Updated: Sep 24, 2014, 18:14 PM IST

Jakarta: The former chairman of Indonesia`s ruling party was jailed for eight years for corruption Wednesday, the latest in a series of graft cases that have cast a shadow over the final years of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono`s decade in power.

Anas Urbaningrum, a former chairman of the president`s Democratic Party, which rules in coalition with several others, was accused of corruption over a project to build a sports centre outside the capital Jakarta.

He is the latest in a string of figures close to Yudhoyono, including three Cabinet ministers, to have become embroiled in corruption cases, undermining his pledges to eradicate the rampant graft that has crippled Indonesia`s public sector.

Urbaningrum stepped down as chairman last year after being named a suspect by the powerful anti-corruption agency over the construction of the Hambalang complex.

The Hambalang complex was supposed to be a first-class training centre for Indonesian athletes but its construction was never completed after it became bogged down in corruption, with the loss to the state estimated at around $40 million.

Anti-graft investigators accused Urbaningrum, 45, of receiving kickbacks to rig the tendering process in the complex`s construction, and of laundering bribe money by buying land and properties.

On Wednesday judges at a special anti-corruption court in Jakarta found him guilty and sentenced him to eight years in jail. Prosecutors had sought a 15-year sentence.

"The accused has been legally and convincingly proven guilty of corruption and money laundering, which was done repeatedly," chief judge Haswandi, who like many Indonesians goes by one name, told the court. 

Urbaningrum said he was considering his next step, adding: "I`m of the opinion that this decision is not just because it`s not based on the full facts presented in court."

Former sports minister Andi Mallarangeng was jailed for four years in July over the same case.

Earlier this month, the energy minister stepped down after being accused of corruption and in May the religion minister quit after allegedly misusing funds that were supposed to help Muslims go on pilgrimage to Mecca.

Yudhoyono steps down next month and his successor, Joko Widodo, is regarded as a clean figure who stands a better chance of tackling corruption.

Indonesia is ranked 114th out of 177 countries and territories in Transparency International`s Corruption Perceptions Index. A number one ranking means the least corrupt.