Indonesia’s Ex-Cabinet Minister Sentenced to 12 Years in Prison over COVID-19 Aid Fraud

Indonesia’s anti-corruption court on Monday sentenced a former social affairs minister to 12 years in prison after finding him guilty of taking $1.2 million in bribes related to the government’s aid for impoverished families affected by the coronavirus pandemic.

According to the court ruling, former social affairs minister Juliari Peter Batubara was found guilty of abusing his authority by collecting bribes through his two subordinates who oversaw obtaining supplies needed for the basic food packages that would be distributed for ailing Indonesians amid the pandemic crisis.

During the virtual hearing, presiding judge Muhammad Damis said the former minister “has legally and convincingly been proven guilty of corruption,” adding that “the crime was committed at a time of COVID-19 pandemic hardship.”

“The court sentences the defendant to 12 years in prison and orders him to pay 500 million rupiahs ($35,000) in fines or serve six more months in prison,” Damis said.

The court also ordered Batubara to pay approximately $1 million in restitution to the state within a month or face an additional two years in prison.

“We have decided to inflict an additional punishment of revoking the defendant’s rights to be elected for any public post for four years, in effect after he completes his main criminal punishment,” Damis continued.

In December, Batubara was detained by authorities after he decided to surrender himself to Corruption Eradication Commission, hours after the chairman of the commission urged him to do so.

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