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Jakarta Court Upholds Jail Sentence of Indonesia Parliament Speaker - 2003-01-17


A high court in Indonesia has upheld the three year jail sentence of Parliamentary Speaker Akbar Tandjung, convicted of corruption last year. Mr. Tandjung's lawyers say they will appeal to the Supreme Court. The Jakarta High Court Friday upheld Akbar Tandjung's conviction for corruption, his three year prison sentence and a fine.

The court also upheld the convictions of two other defendants in the corruption case, Dadang Sukandar and Winfried Simatupang, but increased their jail terms from 18 months to three years.

Akbar Tandjung was found guilty in September on charges he siphoned off $4 million in food aid from the state logistics agency, Bulog, for possible use in his Golkar Party's 1999 election campaign. The parliamentary speaker and his co-defendants have always maintained their innocence, and say they will now appeal to the Supreme Court. He is likely to remain free until the Supreme Court rules on his case. He will also remain in Parliament.

Akbar Tandjung heads the Golkar Party, which for decades was the vehicle of power used by disgraced former president Suharto. His conviction is seen as a milestone for the justice system in a country where few of the powerful have been held to account for the rampant corruption that permeates all levels of Indonesian society.

Western donors, who provide a vital lifeline for the Indonesian economy, have long called on the government to curb graft. Donors are due to meet next week in Bali to discuss the latest round of assistance for the country.

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