Aceh gov­er­nor for­mally ar­rested over al­leged graft

The Myanmar Times - Weekend - - Asean Focus -

THE gov­er­nor of Aceh, In­done­sia’s west­ern­most prov­ince, was for­mally ar­rested late Wed­nes­day for al­leged em­bez­zle­ment of the prov­ince’s huge spe­cial au­ton­omy fund.

Gov. Ir­wandi Yusuf is a for­mer rebel peace ne­go­tia­tor who was elected for a sec­ond five-year term as gov­er­nor last year af­ter los­ing a re-elec­tion bid in 2012.

The 57-year-old had been ques­tioned by In­done­sia’s graft-busters, the Cor­rup­tion Erad­i­ca­tion Com­mis­sion, prior to his for­mal ar­rest af­ter be­ing flown in to Jakarta from Banda Aceh.

Yusuf is among 10 in­di­vid­u­als de­tained by the anti-cor­rup­tion body fol­low­ing sus­pi­cious fi­nan­cial trans­ac­tions between pro­vin­cial and re­gency of­fi­cials.

Among those, Yusuf and three oth­ers, in­clud­ing Ah­madi, re­gent of Aceh’s Bener Me­riah Re­gency, were trans­ferred to Jakarta, where they were for­mally ar­rested.

At a press con­fer­ence late Wed­nes­day, deputy com­mis­sion chief Basaria Pan­jai­tan said Yusuf and other sus­pects al­legedly em­bez­zled 8 tril­lion ru­piah (K781.4 bil­lion/us$557 mil­lion) from the prov­ince’s spe­cial au­ton­omy funds in a 2018 pro­vin­cial bud­get.

Ah­madi is al­leged to have given Yusuf 500 mil­lion ru­piah as part of a 1.5 bil­lion ru­piah “fee” for one of in­fra­struc­ture projects in Bener Me­riah Re­gency.

The money was trans­ferred to at least three bank ac­counts by Ah­madi’s men, ac­cord­ing to Pan­jai­tan.

Yusuf was one of the ne­go­tia­tors who rep­re­sented the now-de­funct rebel group Free Aceh Move­ment dur­ing peace ne­go­ti­a­tions with Jakarta.

Rich in oil and gas, Aceh has long been a key source of rev­enue for Jakarta, but lit­tle of this money has trick­led down to the lo­cal econ­omy.

Un­happy with such treat­ment, the rebel group emerged in 1976 and spent three decades fight­ing for in­de­pen­dence, dur­ing which time thou­sands of civil­ians lost their lives.

But the De­cem­ber 2004 tsunami dis­as­ter, which killed about 170,000 peo­ple in Aceh, changed cir­cum­stances, lead­ing to a peace deal in Helsinki in 2005.

When the tsunami struck Aceh, Yusuf was serv­ing a nine-year jail term for trea­son against In­done­sia. He es­caped from prison when it was in­un­dated by the tsunami and joined the rebel group’s del­e­ga­tion in peace talks.

Yusuf was elected Aceh gov­er­nor in 2006 dur­ing landmark, di­rect lo­cal elec­tions for the prov­ince.

Aceh is one of three spe­cial au­ton­o­mous prov­inces in the coun­try that re­ceive spe­cial funds from the cen­tral gov­ern­ment. – Kyodo

Aceh Gov. Ir­wandi Yusuf speaks at his in­au­gu­ra­tion cer­e­mony in Banda Aceh in July 2017. Photo: EPA

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