Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin, left, and former United Development Party (PPP) chairman Muhammad Romahurmuziy prepare to testify in the bribery trial against Haris Hasanudin in the Jakarta Corruption Court on Wednesday. (Antara Photo/Sigid Kurniawan)

Religious Affairs Minister Testifies as Witness in Bribery Trial


JUNE 26, 2019

Jakarta. Religious Affairs Minister Lukman Hakim Saifuddin testified as a witness on Wednesday in the bribery trial against Haris Hasanudin, head of his ministry's East Java provincial office.

Lukman reiterated previous denials that he accepted Rp 10 million ($700) in cash Haris allegedly gave him and which he later handed over to the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK). He also denied having requested Mohamad Nur Kholis, the ministry's secretary general, to allow Haris to bypass the selection process for head of the provincial office.

"Have you ever requested the secretary general to allow Haris to pass and appoint him as the head?" a Jakarta Corruption Court judge asked Lukman, as reported by Antara news agency.

Lukman's testimony contradicted that of Nur Kholis, who earlier testified that Lukman was very keen to let Haris pass the selection process, despite a recommendation from the State Civil Service Committee to disqualify him due to previous disciplinary sanctions.

"I have told him, but he insisted in inaugurating him [Haris]. He said he would put his body on the line as the risk would only be cancellation [of Haris's appointment], at most," Nur testified on June 12.

Nur Kholis said Lukman had asked him to put Haris among the top three candidates on the shortlist, because he had proven his competence while serving as acting head of the provincial office. He added that Lukman personally appointed Haris on March 5, after passing the selection process.

"Yes, he [Haris] was inaugurated by the minister," he said.

Former United Development Party (PPP) chairman Muhammad Romahurmuziy, popularly known as Romy, was also present at the hearing. The KPK arrested him in a sting operation at the ministry's provincial offices in Sidoarjo, East Java, on March 15, along with Haris and Muhammad Muafaq Wirahadi, head of the ministry's Gresik district office. The latter is on trial in a separate bribery case.

East Java Governor Khofifah Indar Parawansa, who is also an important witness in the case, has yet to testify. Lukman said Khofifah and Romy had both recommended Haris to him.

KPK prosecutors charged Haris for bribing Lukman and Romy with as much as Rp 325 million to secure his appointment.

Lukman allegedly received Rp 70 million in two instalments: Rp 50 million in Surabaya, East Java, on March 1 and Rp 20 million in Jombang, in the same province, on March 9. Lukman denied this accusation.

He said Haris had only given him Rp 10 million via his personal aide as a gratuity after visiting an Islamic boarding school in Mojokerto, East Java, on March 9.

Lukman claims that he only discovered the money after arriving back in Jakarta and that his aide had forgotten to return the money to Haris, as he had requested. The money was reported and handed to the KPK on May 22, after the arrest of Romy and the two officials.