JAKARTA, INDONESIA - Indonesia's anti-graft commission on Friday arrested a former sports minister accused of stealing public money, as students across the country protested a new law that critics say will cripple the commission.
Youth and Sports Minister Imam Nahrawi faces graft charges related to a National Sports Committee grant which he allegedly used for himself. He faces up to 20 years' imprisonment if found guilty.
Nahrawi resigned last week after the Corruption Eradication Commission announced that he was suspected of personally using the 26.5 billion rupiah ($1.8 million) grant.
"I am ready to undergo my destiny," Nahrawi told reporters before entering a car to be taken to a holding cell after being questioned by investigators. "Please pray for me in facing this destiny."
Commissioner Alexander Marwata earlier said Nahrawi is suspected of receiving about $1 million in bribes through his personal assistant, Miftahul Ulum, who was also named a suspect, between 2014 and 2018. He said Nahrawi allegedly asked for an additional $830,000 between 2016 and 2018.
His arrest came during a week of violent demonstrations by thousands of students across the country against the new law. At least three people, including two students, died and several hundred others were injured.
The demonstrators are enraged that Parliament passed the law reducing the authority of the corruption commission, a key body fighting endemic graft in the country.
The death of the students sparked a national outcry, prompting President Joko Widodo to express his deep condolences and order the National Police chief to conduct a thorough investigation.
Clashes between protesters and police continued Friday in various cities, including in Makassar and Medan, as calm largely returned to Jakarta after three straight days of violent protests.
The anti-graft commission, one of the few effective institutions in the country of nearly 270 million people, is frequently under attack by lawmakers who want to reduce its powers.
Nahrawi is the second minister in Widodo's Cabinet to be arrested for alleged graft after former social affairs minister Idrus Marham, who was sentenced to five years in prison for involvement in a bribery case related to a coal-fired power plant project on Sumatra island.
Nahrawi is also the second sports and youth minister to resign after being accused of corruption after Andi Mallarangeng, who served under former President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono.
Mallarangeng was sentenced in 2014 to four years in jail and fined $17,000 for accepting $720,000 from a contractor for a $122 million sports complex in the West Java village of Hambalang.
The cases, which underline Indonesia's challenge in reducing graft, have threatened the credibility of Widodo, who recently won reelection after campaigning for clean governance.
Source: Voice of America a