Muhammad Aulia, Jakarta – A lawyer for troubled Papua Governor Lukas Enembe responded to allegations about his client's gambling habit that costs tens of millions of dollars, telling a news conference in Jakarta on Monday that he went to casinos only when he became ill.
Aloysius Renwarin also dismissed allegations that the governor has used taxpayers' money for gambling.
"When he was ill, he needed entertainment so he played what you call gambling games in Singapore," Aloysius said. "When he was sick, he needed a relaxing and refreshing charge," he added.
The Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Center (PPATK) said earlier this month they detected payments to overseas casinos totaling 55 million Singapore dollars (US$39 million) by the two-term governor since 2017.
Lukas has ignored a warrant from the Corruption Eradication Commission for a deposition after he was named a graft suspect two weeks ago.
His lawyer doubted the anti-money laundering agency's revelation of the fantastic casino spending and insisted that the governor's gambling habit doesn't cost taxpayers.
"He is a leader and he's got the money," Aloysius said without going into details.
His remarks came a day after a local NGO the Indonesian Anti-Corruption Community (MAKI) released purported photos of Lukas playing table games at a Malaysian casino.
MAKI Chairman Boyamin Saiman said the pictures that appear to be screen grabs from security cameras were taken on July 20-21 in Malaysia's gambling resort Genting Highland.
The activist also said that in addition to Genting Highland, the governor also played table games at Crockfords Hotel Sentosa in Singapore and Solaire Resort & Casino and Entertainment City in Manila.
Earlier in the day, President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo urged the governor to obey the law and honor the KPK's summons.
"We must pay respect to the legal proceedings at the KPK, everyone is equal before the law," the president said when asked about Lukas at the Halim Perdanakusuma Airport in East Jakarta.
Stefanus Roy Rening, who heads the governor's defense team, argued that his client is unfit for interrogation due to a complication of kidney disease, diabetes, heart problems, and stroke.
"We would like to tell President Jokowi that [Lukas] is currently sick so we need first to ensure his recovery before the investigation begins," Stefanus said.
The lawyer claimed that Lukas has suffered from at least four strokes in 2018-19.
Photos depicting Lukas at the Malaysian casino's gambling table are dated July 20-21, 2022.
Stefanus also said Lukas had told him he runs a gold mine in his hometown Tolikara.