Indonesia’s parliament speaker has been detained after dodging questioning by authorities on a multi-million-dollar graft case by pleading ill health, an anti-corruption spokesman said, on Monday.
Setya Novanto had ignored summons by the country’s Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) and evaded an attempt to arrest him last week by disappearing for a day, before being taken to hospital for injuries apparently sustained in a car crash.
Investigators picked him up at the hospital after doctors certified that he was fit for questioning, KPK spokesman Febri Diansyah said.
The KPK has accused Novanto of corruption in a 440-million-dollar project by the previous government to issue electronic ID cards.
KPK investigators sought to arrest him on Wednesday night after he ignored repeated summons by pleading ill health and immunity as a legislator, but he was not at his house.
KPK said losses to the state as a result of corruption in the ID card project are estimated at 2.3 trillion rupiah (172 million dollars).
Novanto, also the Chairman of the Golkar Party and an ally of President Joko Widodo, has denied any wrongdoing.
Two officials at the Home Affairs Ministry have been sentenced to seven and five years in prison in the case, while a businessman is also on trial.
More than 30 members of parliament from the 2004-09 period, as well as a former home affairs minister, have been implicated in the case.
Novanto was admitted to hospital late on Thursday after the commission declared him a wanted person, but many Indonesians posted jokes online mocking claims by Novanto’s lawyer that he was seriously injured after his car hit a utility pole.
In September, Novanto was also widely ridiculed on social media by Indonesians after a photo showed him in his hospital bed attached to a heart monitoring machine, suggesting that he was feigning sickness to avoid questioning.
A wealthy businessman himself, Novanto met U.S. President Donald Trump in September 2015, while the latter was campaigning for the presidency, to discuss investment in Indonesia.
After Trump came to power, Joko Widodo tasked Novanto with establishing a rapport with the new U.S. administration. (NAN)