Jakarta. An official of the Religious Affairs Ministry on Monday admitted to the national antigraft agency that the ministry had given away hajj slots reserved for the elderly to lawmakers.
The legislators "got the unused hajj slots, which was supposed to be for those above 60 years old,” Zainal Abidin Supi, inspector general of the ministry said on Monday.
Zainal — who testified for former minister Suryadharma Ali, a graft suspect — did not want to respond as to why the unused slots were also used by Suryadharma and his relatives. Some lawmakers and relatives of Suryadharma allegedly went on the hajj pilgrimage as part of the ministry's entourage.
With the quota set by the government, many Muslims in Indonesia must wait for a couple of years, some even more than two years, to make the hajj pilgrimage.
The Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) named Suryadharma as a suspect on May 22, when he was still the minister. He is charged with Article 2 of the 1999 Law on Anti-Corruption for violating the law by enriching himself and causing state loss. He's also charged with Article 3 of the law for abusing his authority to benefit himself, which caused state loss.
If convicted, Suryadharma could face a maximum jail sentence of 20 years and a Rp 1 billion fine ($85,500).
Besides Suryadharma, the commission also questioned lawmakers who claimed that even though they had the luxury of not having to wait for years, they paid for their own expenses.