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Indonesia

Church welcomes move against Indonesian 'land mafia'

Police task force aims to take on grabbers and cronies who snatch from local communities what is rightfully theirs

Church welcomes move against Indonesian 'land mafia'

Suspects in the Labuan Bajo land graft case are escorted from El Tari Airport in Kupang, capital of East Nusa Tenggara province, on Jan. 14. (Photo supplied)

Just a week before leaving the post he had held for two terms, Agustinus Ch. Dula, the West Manggarai district chief on Indonesia's predominantly Catholic island of Flores, was accused of graft over the sale of public land.

With 19 other accused, including several of his subordinates, he is on trial at the Corruption Crime Court in Kupang, the provincial capital of East Nusa Tenggara province, charged with misappropriating around 1.3 trillion rupiah (US$9.2 million).

According to the indictment, 30 hectares of land in Kerangan near the district capital of Labuan Bajo, obtained from local community leaders in 1997, had been partly sold in a shady deal.

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Dula, a Catholic, is accused of taking bribes to sell the land, which involved brokers, including two Italians who are also accused. 

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