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Aceh rebuilding body appoints graft suspect as asset adviser

Jakarta Post - November 23, 2006

Nani Afrida, Banda Aceh – After being suspended for around a month for his alleged involvement in a corruption case, Akhyarmansyah Lubis has been appointed by the Aceh-Nias Reconstruction and Rehabilitation Agency (BRR) as the agency's asset management adviser.

"This stealthy appointment is unfair to the Achenese as it deals with a suspect in a BRR corruption case," Akhiruddin Mahyuddin, an activist from the Aceh Anti-Corruption Movement, said in Banda Aceh on Tuesday.

Akhiruddin said his organization had learned that Akhyarmansyah was appointed with the consent of BRR chief Kuntoro Mangkusubroto.

Akhyarmansyah, a former employee in the BRR budget section, is accused of being involved in the misuse of Rp 480.5 million (US$50,000) for the procurement of books titled Building a Land of Hope. Besides Akhyarmansyah, other suspects in the case include Hendrawan Diandi, the head of the book procurement project.

"The appointment shows BRR is not committed to eradicating corruption and is exactly the same as other government institutions in Indonesia, which tend to protect their own," Akhiruddin alleged.

He said his organization feared the appointment of Akhyarmansyah to his new position would allow him to become involved in other graft opportunities.

BRR spokesman Tuwanku Mirza Keumala said that despite the appointment, Akhyarmansyah was still currently suspended by the agency. "Akhyarmansyah remains suspended on full pay from his work at BRR, both in Jakarta and Banda Aceh," Mirza said.

Akhyarmansyah was appointed to the adviser position in order to help speed up access to documents and other evidence during the legal investigation into the corruption case, Mirza added.

"BRR will not be able to do anything if the suspect is absent. It is BRR's responsibility to help facilitate the legal process," he said.

Mirza also said the appointment was legally required to protect Akhyarmansyah's rights while suspended. BRR will make a final decision on whether Akhyarmansyah will remain employed at the agency as soon as the court has issued its verdict in the book procurement case, he said.

"Until then we have to abide by the principle of presumption of innocence. That's why we have to honor all of his rights," he said, reiterating that BRR fully supported the investigation led by the Aceh Prosecutor's Office.