Gunung Mas District Chief Admits to Paying Akil Rp 3b in Bribes
Jakarta. When Gunung Mas district head Hambit Bintih's election victory was contested before the Constitutional Court there seemed to be few options, either pay former chief justice Akil Mochtar Rp 3 billion ($264,000) in bribes or lose the case, he told the Jakarta Anti-Corruption Court.
"I had to give a sum of money to Akil to win my case in the Constitutional Court," he said. "Especially after I was shown the text Akil sent to Ibu Nisa. It showed that I would lose the case if I declined to give the three billion."
The Gunung Mas, Central Kalimantan, district race was one of the earliest instances of election-fraud involving Akil and the Constitutional Court to hit the public. The allegations have since mounted, growing to involve more than a dozen suspected cases and casting serious doubt on the integrity of the nation's electoral system.
Akil has admitted to accepting a bribe in the Gunung Mas election dispute, spurred on by a series of particularly damning text messages between the former chief justice and Golkar Party lawmaker Chairun Nisa hashing out the details of the bribe. In the exchange, Akil demanded "three tons of gold," to settle the case, code for Rp 3 billion, according to Chairun. She was to receive Rp 75 million for facilitating the bribery.
The text messages, some of which called for a re-election in Gunung Mas, were shown to Hambit. He then prepared the funds with the help of his cousin Cornelis Nalau Antun and handed them over to Akil and Chairun. The district head told the court that he didn't have a choice. He had seen other elected officials lose their court cases after refusing to pay Akil a bribe. The losing candidates, Jaya Samaya Manong and Daldin, had challenged his election victory, he had no other option but to pay the bribe, he said.
"I admit that I am guilty in this incident… [but] I could imagine a riot happening in Gunung Mas because of the re-election, like what happened in West Kotawaringin," Hambit said. "A re-election would drain Gunung Mas's budget , our effort and our time. It could also spark conflict between the people in Gunung Mas. I didn't want a riot to happen."
Both Hambit and his cousin face a maximum of six years in prison on bribery charges. Chairun faces seven-and-a-half years for setting up the backroom deal.
Akil has been charged with two counts of money laundering and three counts of bribery. He faces up to 20 years in prison if convicted of money laundering, the highest of the charges.
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