Zonalinenews-Jakarta Only days after naming her a suspect in two graft cases, the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has detained Banten Governor Ratu Atut Chosiyah on suspicion that she was attempting to hamper the investigation by influencing witnesses.
The senior Golkar Party politician appeared shaken as she was escorted by KPK officials to a prisoner transport vehicle after being questioned about her alleged role in the bribery case implicating her brother, Tubagus “Wawan” Chaeri Wardana, and former Constitutional Court chief justice Akil Mochtar in relation to an election dispute in Banten.
KPK spokesperson Johan Budi said that Atut would be detained for the first 20 days at Pondok Bambu penitentiary in East Jakarta. “She is suspected of violating Article 6 of Law No. 31/1999 on corruption,” he said.
Atut, who has previously been cheerful each time she was questioned as a witness, appeared subdued when she arrived at the KPK’s headquarters in Kuningan, South Jakarta. She gripped her daughter-in-law Ade Rossi Chairunnisa’s hand as she entered the building, opting not to greet journalists with her usual smile.
Despite her downbeat appearance, Atut still dressed impressively, wearing a Louis Vuitton hijab and New Balance shoes.
After undergoing six hours of questioning, for the first time as a suspect rather than as a witness, Atut was in an emotional state as she left the building, now wearing an orange detainee vest over her brown batik blouse.
She seemed close to tears as she made her way through the swarm of journalists who bombarded her with questions about allegations that she instructed Wawan, to bribe Akil in exchange for a promise to favor Lebak Deputy Regent Amir Hamzah in an election dispute case being heard by the court.
According to her lawyer, Firman Wijaya, Atut has been very upset since she was named a suspect on Tuesday. “[It’s only] natural, she is under pressure,” he said
Firman also claimed that despite his client being unwell at the time of the questioning, Atut persevered and insisted on answering the summons. “She is not in prime condition, but her good intentions to meet the summons has been greater than her suffering,” said Firman.
In response to the detention, Firman criticized the KPK for swiftly detaining Atut less than a week after she was named a suspect. “We believe that the questioning was not sufficient [for the KPK to detain her as] it did not get to the substance [of the case]. This is a problem for us. Why has our client been targeted?” he said.
When asked about the allegation that Atut was the mastermind behind the bribery attempt, Firman declined to answer, saying that the KPK’s questioning had not addressed the content of the case.
According to Firman, Atut had yet to be questioned about the actual case. Instead, the KPK had only conducted a health checkup on her.
Johan confirmed that after she was deemed to be healthy, the KPK decided to detain her.
Responding to Firman’s criticism, Johan said that the KPK could detain someone if they were concerned that the suspect would intimidate witnesses, eliminate evidence or attempt to flee the jurisdiction.
A source within the KPK, who declined to be named, claimed that Atut was immediately detained after being named a suspect because she was allegedly trying to hamper the KPK’s investigation into her alleged role by influencing witnesses in the case.
According to the source, Atut had two meetings with witnesses in Permata Hijau, South Jakarta.
Firman said that it was Atut who had asked to be detained at Pondok Bambu Penitentiary, rather than other prison facilities.
On the same day, Banten people demonstrated their support for Atut by holding a rally in front of the KPK’s headquarters.
The rally, grouped under the auspices of United Presidium Banten, lambasted KPK chairman Abraham Samad for saying that he was not afraid of Atut. “That is clearly hurtful and disrespects the Banten people because whatever the case may be, Ratu Atut Chosiyah is the leader of the Banten people,” a rally spokesman said.(*The Jakarta Post)