Jakarta. Indonesia’s Justice Ministry has insisted that no sentence reductions were awarded to corruption convicts for the Idul Fitri holiday last week, following local media reports of cuts of up to two months for some notorious convicts.
“Not a single letter [approving a sentence cut] has been issued, in keeping with Government Regulation 99 of 2012,” M. Akbar Hadiprabowo, a spokesman for the ministry, told reporters in Jakarta on Tuesday.
Any sentence cuts, known locally as remissions, reportedly handed out to graft convicts “are merely recommendations from local offices of the Justice Ministry and are still being processed,” he added.
The 2012 government regulation was introduced by the administration of then-minister of justice Amir Syamsuddin to make it more difficult for corruption convicts to qualify for a sentence cut, as part of the Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono administration’s wider efforts to get tough on graft.
Under the regulation, corruption convicts must pay all fines and damages imposed by a court before they can qualify. They must also cooperate with law enforcement authorities investigating others implicated in the same case, and must have approval from the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) on whether they deserve a sentence cut.
The current justice minister, Yasonna Laoly from the Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P), drew widespread condemnation earlier this year for calling for the regulation to be rescinded because it was too harsh on graft convicts.
His office, though, appears to still be abiding by the regulation in not approving sentence cuts this Idul Fitri. (The ministry traditionally hands out sentence cuts ranging from 15 days to two months during major public holidays.)
Local media reported last week that dozens of corruption convicts, including high-profile prisoners such as former Democratic Party treasurer Muhammad Nazaruddin and rogue tax official Gayus Tambunan, had received sentence cuts of up to two months.
Nazaruddin is serving a seven-year sentence for bid-rigging in a contract for the construction of an athletes’ village in Palembang, South Sumatra, for the 2011 Southeast Asian Games; Gayus has been hit by a string of convictions for bribery, passport forgery and other offenses, putting his sentence at 30 years.
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