Wednesday, December 6, 2023

Minister Dito to be Presented in Graft Trial

The Jakarta Globe
October 3, 2023 | 3:27 pm
Youth Affairs and Sports Minister Dito Ariotedjo attends a hearing with the House of Representatives in the parliament building, Jakarta, Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2023. (Antara Photo/Muhammad Iqbal)
Youth Affairs and Sports Minister Dito Ariotedjo attends a hearing with the House of Representatives in the parliament building, Jakarta, Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2023. (Antara Photo/Muhammad Iqbal)

Jakarta. Youth Affairs and Sports Minister Dito Ariotedjo will appear as a witness in an ongoing graft trial involving former government officials and businessmen implicated in fraudulent internet infrastructure projects, according to a senior prosecutor on Tuesday.

The minister gained attention when one of the defendants revealed in the South Jakarta District Court that he had delivered Rp 27 billion ($1.7 million) to Dito through a messenger before Dito's appointment as minister.

"We will undoubtedly present Mr. Dito in the court hearing. The witness testimony is of significant importance to the prosecutors handling the case," said Kuntadi, director of investigation at the Attorney General's Office (AGO), as reported by Detik news website.

However, the prosecutor did not specify the date when Dito is expected to appear in court.


On Sunday, Dito said that he respects the ongoing legal proceedings in the case but did not explicitly confirm whether he had accepted the money.

"I already provided my deposition in July, in which I offered my explanation and testimony," he said.

The corruption trial revolves around a government project aimed at building 4G internet infrastructure covering approximately 7,900 remote villages. It involves eight defendants, including former top government officials and businessmen who allegedly paid bribes to secure contracts for supplying base-transceiver stations.

Among the defendants is former Communication and Informatics Minister Johnny Plate.

Last week, co-defendant Irwan Hermawan claimed that he had delivered money to Dito.

When a judge inquired about "Dito who," Irwan replied, "I later learned that the person in question is Dito Ariotedjo."

During the pre-trial investigation on July 13, an attorney for Irwan returned banknotes worth Rp 27 billion to the AGO and informed the press that the money had been returned by an individual whose identity the lawyer declined to disclose.

Dito, whose real name is Ario Bimo Nandito, assumed office as a minister on April 3, becoming the youngest member of President Joko Widodo's cabinet. However, the alleged bribery scandal predates his ministerial appointment.

Before joining the cabinet, Dito was known as a businessman who founded several startups and a politician affiliated with the Golkar Party.

The connection between his business activities and the scandal related to internet infrastructure procurement at the Communication and Informatics Ministry's Information and Telecommunication Accessibility Agency (BAKTI) remains unclear. Prosecutors have described Dito's involvement as that of a witness.

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