Indonesia’s President Responds to Graft Suspect’s Letter

Posted August 21st, 2011 at 8:40 pm (UTC-5)
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Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has responded to a letter from graft suspect Muhammad Nazaruddin, saying he would never intervene in the legal process.

The former Democratic Party treasurer, who was arrested in Colombia earlier this month and brought back to Indonesia, asked the president in a letter sent Thursday to protect his family, especially his wife and children. Nazaruddin said that in exchange he is willing to go to prison immediately.

President Yudhoyono answered in a letter Sunday that it is the role of law enforcement officers to provide protection for Nazaruddin and his family. He said the legal process Nazaruddin is facing must follow Indonesia's law. He noted that the principle of fair law, stated in the 1945 Constitution, guarantees that any legal process will be independent and free from intervention.

Nazaruddin is suspected of soliciting almost $3 million in bribes in connection with the construction of an athletes' village for the 2011 Southeast Asian Games.

He fled the country in May and was captured three months later in Colombia. While on the run, the 32-year-old said he was innocent and in turn made graft allegations against several high-ranking Democratic party members, including anti-corruption officials.

The president urged Nazaruddin to be cooperative during the investigation and tell investigators all that is relevant to his case, including names of institutions and parties that may be implicated.

President Yudhoyono was re-elected in 2009 on a promise to eradicate corruption on the government. But since then, his government has ben plagued with allegations of corruption at every level.

Nazaruddin's case has riveted the public that sees corruption as the greatest threat to democracy.