Jakarta – Setya Novanto, a former House of Representatives speaker currently serving a 15-year jail sentence for graft, has been transferred to the Gunung Sindur maximum security prison in Bogor after being caught on camera meeting his wife and going shopping during a medical leave from his former prison in Bandung.
A photo circulating on social media showed Novanto, wearing a short-sleeved shirt, a black hat and a surgical mask covering his face, in a shop in Padalarang, West Bandung, on Friday.
The shop was about a 40-minute drive from Santosa Hospital where Setya was supposed to meet his doctor.
Setya has been caught on camera several times already spending time outside the Sukamiskin Prison in Bandung where he was serving his sentence along with some of Indonesia's biggest corruptors.
Prison authorities said the former Golkar party chairman was allowed to leave Sukamiskin for a few hours at a time to attend trials – he stood as a witness in another graft case – or to visit his doctor. Both times he managed to persuade his guard to let him squeeze in a little free time before he returns to his lockup.
The authorities have obviously had enough of Setya's liberal interpretation of his temporary prison leave. Liberti Sitinjak, the head of the West Java office of the Justice and Human Rights Ministry said Setya will now serve the rest of his sentence in a maximum security prison.
"On behalf of the regional office of the Ministry of Law and Human Rights, I apologize to the public and other law enforcement officials. What happened today was our mistake," Liberti said in a press conference late on Friday, as quoted by Antara news agency.
The office transferred Setya to the Gunung Sindur Prison – which housed some of Indonesia's top terrorist inmates – on Friday night. He spent his first hours in the maximum security prison being interrogated by officials to find out if he colluded with prison guards or other officials to allow him time to walk around freely outside prison.
"We hope to complete the interrogation by Tuesday or Wednesday. We have to know the real story," Liberti said, as quoted by Antara.
The ministry has been working hard to improve the reputation of Indonesia's prison guards, notorious for being corrupt but who are also frequently underpaid to work in an overcrowded penitentiary system.
In April, the Corruption Eradication Commission sent a former warden at Sukamiskin, Wahid Husen, back to his old prison for accepting bribes from inmates.