Lawmaker ‘tried to bribe court official’
Constitutional Court chief justice Mahfud MD on Friday informed President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono of a bribe attempt by Democratic Party lawmaker M. Nazaruddin, adding another blow to the lawmaker’s political career.
Mahfud said Nazaruddin, who is caught up in other graft allegations, had once threatened Constitutional Court secretary-general Janedjri M Gaffar after Janedjri refused to accept S$120,000 (US$97,160) in cash from the lawmaker.
The new revelation adds to a string of allegations after Nazaruddin and party colleague Angelina Sondakh were alleged to have sought illicit fees totaling Rp 25 billion ($2.93 million), from a construction company that won a tender to build an athlete dormitory worth Rp 191 billion for the upcoming 2011 SEA Games in Palembang, South Sumatra.
Mahfud on Friday met Yudhoyono, the chief patron of the Democratic Party, after previously sending a private letter to the President reporting on Nazaruddin’s “unethical” behavior.
“The [Nazaruddin case] is not something trivial although we are still getting to the bottom of what is really going on,” Yudhoyono said at an ad hoc press conference at the Presidential Palace.
He said he had consulted party chairman Anas Urbaningrum over Mahfud’s report, but that “Anas said he did not know about it”.
Mahfud said Nazaruddin, in late 2010, dined with Janedjri at the lawmaker’s request.
“Nazaruddin then left two envelopes, but [Janedjri], not knowing the contents, refused to accept them,” Mahfud said, but did not disclose the location of the meeting.
The following morning, he continued, Janedjri attempted to get in touch with Nazaruddin to return the envelopes.
“[Nazaruddin] said the money was ‘friendship money’.
“He threatened to wreak havoc on the court if [Janedjri] did not accept the money,” Mahfud said.
He said the envelopes were eventually returned to Nazaruddin’s house in South Jakarta by a court officer and were received by Nazaruddin’s housekeeper.
“The housekeeper opened the envelopes at the house to find S$60,000 in each,” Mahfud said.
Mahfud said he did not report the incident to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) since it could not be categorized as attempted bribery.
“At the time, Nazaruddin was not linked ot any of the cases we were handling.”
Ruhut Sitompul, a member of a Democratic Party fact-finding team tasked to look into the graft allegations, said Nazaruddin denied he attempted to give Janedjri money.
Ruhut challenged Mahfud to produce evidence of the alleged bribery attempt.
“Mahfud should have filed a report with the KPK or with the police, not to the President,” he said.
Also on Friday, Jakarta Police spokesman Sr. Comr. Baharudin Djafar admitted police investigators had once named Nazaruddin a suspect in 2005 in a document forgery case but the investigation was later halted for unclear reasons.
“We issued a letter ordering a halt to the investigation, but this is not the end of the case. We can reopen it if new evidence appears,” Baharudin said, adding that he did not know why police stopped the investigation.
Reports say Nazaruddin falsified bank guarantee documents to clear the way for one of his companies, PT Anugerah Nusantara, to win procurement tenders held by the Industry Ministry and the Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Ministry.
Benny Kabur Harman, the head of the Democratic Party fact-finding team and the chairman of the House law and human rights commission, said the case was being politicized to discredit party members and tarnish the party’s image.
“The situation has turned into unhealthy politicking. Nazaruddin and Angelina have been discredited by groundless opinions,” he said at a press conference Friday.
He reiterated that his team had not found evidence indicating the two were involved in the graft case.
Indonesian Survey Institute political analyst Burhanuddin Muhtadi said Yudhoyono’s statement sent a strong signal that the President was feeling the political pressure from the case.
“I think there are no more reasons not to dismiss Nazaruddin. It would be a win-win solution for the Democratic Party. He can regain his position if the investigations fail to find him guilty,” Burhanuddin said, adding that by allowing Nazaruddin to keep his position would jeopardize the party’s image.
Ridwan Max Sijabat contributed to this story.