Indonesian politician Setya Novanto gets 15 years prison over graft | News | DW | 24.04.2018
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Indonesian politician Setya Novanto gets 15 years prison over graft

Indonesia's former speaker, Setya Novanto, initially tried to dodge anti-corruption investigators. He attracted global attention in 2015 when then US presidential candidate Donald Trump called him a "great man."

Setya Novanto was sentenced to 15 years in prison on Tuesday for his alleged role in the siphoning off public funds from a project to introduce electronic identity cards to Indonesia.

Indonesian prosecutors allege 80 people, including legislators, officials and businessmen, used a $440 million (€360 million) national electronic identity card scheme rolled out in 2011 and 2012 to steal more than a third of the funds.

Apart from the jail term, Novanto was also barred from holding public office for five years and was fined 500 million rupiah ($36,000).

Lead prosecutor Abdul Basir called for the court to seize Novanto's assets if he failed to pay $7.4 million in restitution to the state.

The former speaker of parliament denies wrongdoing in one of the biggest corruption cases in the graft-riddled Southeast Asian country.

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Rampant corruption

Novanto, the chairman of the Golkar party, which is part of Indonesia's ruling coalition, had initially ignored the summons of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), pleading ill health and immunity as a legislator.

In October, Novanto used a controversial pretrial motion to have charges against him dropped – a move which prompted President Joko Widodo to urge him to "follow the legal process." The following month he was hospitalized after a car accident. Some Indonesians suggested the crash was an elaborate stunt to avoid arrest.

Novanto attracted global attention in late 2015 Donald Trump, who was running for president at the time, called him a "great man" during a news conference at Trump Tower.

According to Transparency International, Indonesians widely perceive parliament as one of their country's most corrupt institutions.

Read more: Indonesian bishop resigns amid mistress, corruption allegations

shs/kms (AP, Reuters)

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