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Indonesia's ex-chief justice gets life imprisonment

Watchdog praises 'historic' sentence on corruption charges

An Indonesian watchdog has praised the country’s anti-corruption court for handing down a life sentence on Monday to a former Constitutional Court chief justice.

“It’s a historic moment,” Emerson Yuntho of Indonesian Corruption Watch said Tuesday. “This is the first time for a corrupt official to be sentenced to life in prison. In the history of the Corruption Eradication Commission [KPK], the verdict is monumental.”

The verdict, he said, illustrated that law enforcement agencies have a commitment to eradicating corruption. “I think it meets what people want for justice,” he said.

The court sentenced Akil Mochtar, 53, to life imprisonment for accepting more than 57 billion rupiah (about US$4.8 million) in bribes to settle local election disputes, and for money laundering. The charges spanned 10 different cases including the general election held in September 2013 in Gunung Mas district, Central Kalimantan.

Mochtar had served as a judge at the Constitutional Court, which has the authority to settle local election disputes, since 2008. He was chosen by parliament as chief justice five years later.

KPK spokesman Johan Budi said that Mochtar deserved the harsh sentence.

“We did hope that the court’s judges would give the maximum sentence,” he said. “We also hope that the verdict will be a warning to anyone willing to receive bribes.”

“Judges should keep giving maximum sentences as part of their efforts to eradicate corruption. They should not make this verdict the last heavy one,” said Yuntho.

Former Youth and Sports Minister Andi Mallarangeng is currently on trial for bribes he allegedly accepted in relation to the construction of a sports center in West Java.

In April, former Deputy Energy and Mineral Resources Minister Rudi Rubiandini was sentenced to seven years in prison for taking bribes.

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