Jakarta. Indonesian prosecutors made history on Monday by recommending a death sentence for a key defendant in a major corruption case at military insurer Asabri.
Businessman Heru Hidayat is accused of misguiding the state-run insurer to bad investments for his personal gains and of laundering the ill-gotten money by re-investing in other assets.
Prosecutors told the Jakarta Anti-Corruption Court that Heru alone has inflicted a loss of Rp 12.6 trillion to Asabri.
Asabri collects premiums by deducting 8 percent of the salary of soldiers, policemen, and civilian staffers at the Defense Ministry.
While the amended 1999 anti-corruption law carries capital punishment, such a demand has never been presented in the court before due to the vaguely prescribed prerequisites.
Article 2 of the law stipulates that graft conviction can be punishable by death if the crime is committed when the country is under an emergency situation due to natural disaster or economic crisis, and/or it is a repeat crime.
Prosecutors argued that Heru is a repeat offender, saying that he was earlier found guilty in a separate corruption case related to another state-owned insurance company, Jiwasraya.
“The crime committed by the defendant classifies as an extra-ordinary crime that may put the national integrity in jeopardy … the defendant was already sentenced to life in the Jiwasraya corruption case that costs the state Rp 16.8 trillion in financial losses,” according to the prosecution demand read in turn by prosecutors.
The Jiwasraya case already saw the country’s toughest anti-corruption trial in which six defendants were sentenced to life in prison last October. It was for the first time in Indonesian history that multiple defendants were sentenced to life in the same corruption case.
Heru, the chief commissioner of shipping company Trada Alam Minera, is also accused of enriching his company using the money he illegally obtained from Asabri.
In their attempts to recover state losses, prosecutors seized the company’s assets such as its 51 percent share in subsidiary Hanochem Shipping and an LNG tanker.
According to prosecutors’ documents, they only managed to collect Rp 2.4 trillion from the defendant’s assets.
An attorney for Heru lashed prosecutors for “abuse of power and exaggeration” with their demand.
The alleged corruption and money laundering against Heru took place in 2012-19 -- before he was convicted in the Jiwasraya trial -- dismissing prosecutors’ description that the defendant is a repeat offender, lawyer Kresna Hutauruk argued.
The indictment makes no mention about the specific death sentence article and accordingly the demand must not go that path, he added.
“The demand deviates from the indictment and it’s clearly against the law and a gross exaggeration that prosecutors might have committed to the abuse of power," Kresna said.
There are eight defendants in the Asabri trial -- two of them were already sentenced to life in the Jiwasraya corruption scandal including Heru and renowned stockbroker Beny Tjokrosaputro.
The Supreme Court has recently upheld the sentence.
The six others include two former Asabri president directors Sonny Widjaja and Adam Rachmat Damiri; two former Asabri finance directors Hari Setianto and Bacjtiar Effendi; consultant firm Jakarta Emiten Investor director Jimmy Sutopo; and real estate developer Eureka Prima Jakarta president director Lukman Purnomosidi.
Sonny was the first to appear in the hearing earlier in the day and heard a demand of 10 years’ imprisonment from prosecutors.
Graft convicts rarely got the maximum jail sentence in the Indonesian courts. Before the Jiwasraya trial, only two convicts were sentenced to life, including Adrian Waworuntu during the 2003 trial of a major embezzlement case in a state bank and former Constitutional Court Chief Justice Akil Mochtar who was found guilty in 2014 of taking bribes when handling regional election disputes.