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Indonesian Parliament Speaker Released from Detention - 2002-04-05


A top Indonesian politician facing corruption charges has been released from detention. Speaker of Parliament Akbar Tandjung has been held in the country's Attorney General's office for a month pending the outcome of his trial.

The Central Jakarta District Court made the surprise announcement Friday.

Judge Andi Samsan Nganro said Akbar Tandjung was released after his wife provided guarantees that he would not flee the country. He did not elaborate on the decision.

Akbar Tandjung was put in detention in the Attorney General's office a month ago after he was charged with corruption. Mr. Tandjung is accused of taking $4 million in government funds that were intended for a humanitarian project. He is alleged to have used that money to finance his party's 1999 election campaign.

As the speaker of parliament and head of the Golkar political party, Mr. Tandjung is the highest profile politician to face charges of graft. He denies all charges of wrongdoing.

Golkar was Indonesia's ruling party for more than 30 years under former President Suharto. But Golkar has been trying to find a new identity since Indonesia's democratic reform movement swept President Suharto from power in 1998.

Critics charge that the case against Mr. Tandjung is a politically motivated move against Golkar.

But the trial is seen as an important test for President Megawati Sukarnoputri whether the Indonesian legal system is strong enough to make good on her promises to crack down on corruption.