Indonesia Graft Suspect Detained After Doctors Clear Health

Indonesian House Speaker Setya Novanto sits on a wheelchair Sunday as he is escorted by investigators and aides upon arrival at Corruption Eradication Commission office in Jakarta, Indonesia. Photo: Associated Press

JAKARTA — Indonesia’s anti-graft commission has arrested the speaker of the country’s Parliament who for weeks evaded questioning over his alleged role in the theft of USD $170 million of public money.

Attempts to question Setya Novanto took an unexpected twist on Thursday night when he was involved in a car crash and admitted to hospital. The previous day he had evaded arrest in a police raid on his home.

Novanto’s lawyer said he was badly injured in the crash, but Corruption Eradication Commission spokesman Febri Diansyah said Monday that an independent panel of doctors concluded there was no need for his continued hospitalization.

Diansyah said Novanto was moved to a detention center around midnight Sunday. Photos showed him in a wheelchair wearing the commission’s orange vest for prisoners.

He is accused of being among 80 people, mostly officials and politicians, and several companies who used the introduction of a USD $440 million electronic identity card system in 2011 and 2012 to steal more than a third of the funds.

Novanto, also chairman of Golkar, a major party in Indonesia’s governing coalition, has denied any wrongdoing.


Diansyah said Novanto will be detained for 20 days to assist with the commission’s investigation.

The car accident unleashed a wave of incredulity in Indonesia with some seeing it as an outrageous move to stymie the investigation.

A Donald Trump admirer, Novanto made an unexpected appearance at the future president’s news conference at Trump Tower in New York in September 2015 along with another Indonesian lawmaker. Trump introduced Novanto as one of Indonesia’s most powerful men who would do great things for the U.S.