Jakarta – Businessman Heru Hidayat was convicted for corruption and money laundering related to a bad investment scandal at military insurer Asabri on Tuesday but the court refused to deliver the death sentence demanded by prosecutors.
His trial has marked the first time that capital punishment was recommended in a corruption case.
The verdict also stipulates that Heru will get no imprisonment in the Asabri graft scandal that according to state auditors has inflicted a loss of Rp 22.7 trillion ($1.6 billion) to the state-owned insurer.
However, he will spend the rest of his life in prison after being separately convicted for corruption in another state-owned insurer, Jiwasraya. The earlier conviction has been upheld by the Supreme Court to make it final and binding.
"Considering that the defendant has been sentenced to life imprisonment, no imprisonment in this particular case shall be imposed," Presiding Judge Eko Purwanto said when reading out the verdict at the Jakarta Anti-Corruption Court.
The reasoning behind the judges' refusal to deliver a death sentence is more about procedural matters.
The panel argued that while prosecutors have demanded the death sentence, their indictment document fails to mention the specific article on the anti-corruption law prescribing the aggravating circumstance of the offense that may lead to the death sentence.
"Since the beginning of the trial, prosecutors have made no mention about Article 2 (2) of the 1999 Anti-Corruption Law," Judge Ali Muhtarom told the court.
The article stipulates that corruption can be punishable by death if committed when the country is under an emergency situation due to natural disaster or economic crisis, and/or it is a repeat crime.
Prosecutors argued that Heru is a serial offender, citing his earlier conviction in the Jiwasraya case, but making no reference to the specific article.
"With regard to the death sentence demand, the panel of judges considers that the indictment document shall become a reference and framework in the making of a verdict," the judge said, pointing to the guidelines in the Criminal Procedure Code.
Heru, the chief commissioner of shipping company Trada Alam Minera, is ordered to repay Rp 12.6 trillion in damages to the state or his assets will be confiscated.
There are eight defendants in the Asabri trial – two of them were already sentenced to life in the Jiwasraya corruption scandal including Heru and renowned stockbroker Beny Tjokrosaputro.
Six other defendants include two former Asabri president directors Sonny Widjaja and Adam Rachmat Damiri; two former Asabri finance directors Hari Setianto and Bacjtiar Effendi; consultant firm Jakarta Emiten Investor director Jimmy Sutopo; and real estate developer Eureka Prima Jakarta president director Lukman Purnomosidi.
The defendants are accused of leading Asabri to investments in high-risk shares that resulted in massive financial losses.
Asabri collects premiums by deducting 8 percent of the salary of soldiers, policemen, and civilian staffers at the Defense Ministry.