Jakarta – Law and Human Rights Minister Yasonna Laoly says he is prepared to resign from his ministerial seat if Ronny F. Sompie, who was recently removed from his position as the ministry's director general of immigration, is found not guilty of covering up about the whereabouts of graft fugitive Harun Masiku.
"If he [Ronny] is not guilty, I will step down from my position as a minister because I am sure that [Ronny] is guilty," Yasonna said on Thursday.
Yasonna recently removed Ronny and the immigration office's director of systems and technology, Alif Suadi, from their positions, arguing that the two officials were responsible for the failure of the immigration information system to detect Harun's return from Singapore earlier this month.
The minister claimed that prior to Ronny's dismissal, he had continuously expedited the maintenance of the immigration management and information system's (SIMKIM) central database due to frequent delays in receiving immigration data from airports' immigration check points.
He went to say that he had reprimanded immigration officials in December because the SIMKIM had been unreliable in delivering real time immigration data.
"I have always told them [immigration officials] to expedite maintenance of the immigration information system," he added as quoted by kompas.com.
On Jan. 8, the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) named Harun a graft suspect for allegedly paying bribes of Rp 600 million (US$43,950) to General Elections Commission (KPU) commissioner Wahyu Setiawan in the hope of securing a seat at the House as a replacement for the late Nazarudin Kiemas.
The antigraft body has arrested Wahyu, but Harun – an Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) politician, still remains at large.
Yasonna, a senior member of the PDI-P, apparently insisted that Harun had left the country on Jan. 6 and remained overseas as of Jan. 16. However, Tempo reported that Harun had returned to Indonesia via Soekarno-Hatta International Airport on Jan. 7.
Immigration officials, who first denied the report, later confirmed that it was accurate, with Ronny saying on Jan. 22 that there had been a "delay in the processing of traffic data at Terminal F" of the airport.
Yasonna has since been accused of deliberately covering up Harun's whereabouts, with critics saying that Ronny was only a scapegoat and the minister himself should be held accountable.
He has played down the allegations and instead established a "fact-finding team", comprising officials from the National Police's cybercrime unit and the Communications and Information Ministry, to investigate why the system had failed to detect Harun. (glh).