Former Indonesian agriculture minister sentenced to 10 years for corruption

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Former Indonesian Agriculture Minister Syahrul Yasin Limpo sits on the defendant’s chair prior to the start of his sentencing hearing on a corruption case at the Corruption Court in Jakarta, Indonesia on July 11. (AP)

JAKARTA, Indonesia, July 11, (AP): Indonesia’s anti-graft court sentenced a former agriculture minister to 10 years in prison Thursday after finding him guilty of corruption-related extortion, abuse of power and bribery involving ministry contracts with private vendors.
The case has tarnished President Joko Widodo’s credibility in fighting corruption. Five other members of Widodo’s Cabinet have been sentenced to prison terms in corruption cases, casting a shadow over his efforts to clean up government while his term will end in October.
The court in the capital, Jakarta, ruled that the former Cabinet minister, Syahrul Yasin Limpo, was guilty of abusing his power by enriching himself and other officials. It also ordered him to pay a 300 million rupiah ($18,500) fine, and said he would be subject to another four months’ imprisonment if he fails to pay.
“The defendant has legally and convincingly been proven guilty of corruption,” presiding Judge Rianto Adam Pontoh said. “He wasn’t a good example as a public official, what he has done is counter the government’s efforts to fight corruption and enriched himself by corruption.”
Limpo had been arrested last October by the Corruption Eradication Commission, known as the KPK. He has denied wrongdoing.
Several ministry officials testified during the trial that secretariats, directorates general and agencies within the ministry was required to give up 20% of their budgets to Limpo, as though they were indebted to him, and he threated their jobs if they rejected his demands. Vendors and suppliers were also asked to set aside money to fulfill the then-minister’s demands, the trial revealed.
Limpo used the money on luxurious cars, gifts and apartments, charter private jets, family parties and gatherings, and for religious observances and pilgrimages. Limpo also used the bribes to disburse humanitarian aid for disaster victims and to his Nasdem political party.

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