Indonesia ex-minister sentenced for 12 years over Covid aid fraud

WION Web Team
New DelhiUpdated: Aug 23, 2021, 07:05 PM IST

Indonesia's Social Affairs Minister Juliari Batubara walks as he arrives at Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) headquarters in Jakarta, Indonesia, December 6, 2020 Photograph:(Reuters)

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The former minister was accused of taking USD 1.2 million in bribes. The money was meant for families affected by coronavirus pandemic

Former social affairs minister of Indonesia was sentenced to 12 years on Monday after he was convicted of taking USD 1.2 million in bribes. The money was linked to food aid for poor families affected by coronavirus pandemic.

The sentence was handed to Juliari Batubara, the minister by a court in Jakarta. Batubara was arrested in December. A sting operation had turned up suitcases, backpacks and envelopes stuffed with cash.

"The court sentences the defendant to 12 years in prison and orders him to pay 500 million rupiah ($35,000) in fines or serve six more months in prison," presiding judge Muhammad Damis told the hearing, which was held virtually for virus safety reasons.

The former politician was also ordered to pay the equivalent of about $1 million in restitution, or face an additional two years in prison, the court said.

Batubara would take cash from two contractors hired to supply basic food packages for Indonesians hit hard by the health crisis, the court heard earlier.

President Joko Widodo vowed not to protect corrupt officials in the wake of Batubara's arrest and described the stolen funds as "the people's money".

Graft remains a big problem in Indonesia, where politicians are widely seen as among the most corrupt.

(With inputs from agencies)