Jakarta – A General Election Commission (KPU) commissioner was named suspect on Thursday for allegedly taking the equivalent of Rp 600 million in bribe from a politician of the ruling Indonesian Democratic Party of Struggle (PDI-P) who wanted to fill a vacant seat in the House of Representatives.
Wahyu Setiawan was arrested by officers of the Corruption Eradication Commission, or KPK, on Wednesday when he was aboard a plane just before it took off for Bangka Belitung province from the Soekarno-Hatta International Airport in Tangerang, Banten.
He is accused of taking bribe from PDI-P politician Harun Masiku, also a suspect in the case, KPK deputy chairman Lili Pintauli Siregar said in a press conference, aired by Beritasatu TV. KPU chairman Arief Budiman was also present at the press conference.
Lili said eight people were arrested in separate operations at the Tangerang airport, a Jakarta restaurant, a house in Banyumas, Central Java and another house in Depok, West Java, on Wednesday.
Three of them were named suspects in the bribery case, including Wahyu, a businessman identified as Saeful, and former Election Supervisory Agency (Bawaslu) member Agustiani Tio Fridelina, who the KPK said a trusted aide for Wahyu. Harun, the suspected briber, remained at large, Lili said.
"W.S.E. asked Rp 900 million in return for his help to make sure that H.A.R. will fill the vacant seat," Lili said, referring to Wahyu and Harun by their initials.
The House vacancy occurred due to the death of elected House member Nazarudin Kiemas, also a PDI-P politician, she said.
Harun turned to Wahyu for help because the KPU had already picked another PDI-P politician to replace Nazarudin, she said.
The bribe money amounting to Rp 600 million was channeled through Agustiani. Wahyu already took Rp 200 million in December while the remaining Rp 400 million was still in the hands of his aide, Lili said.
On Wednesday, Wahyu told Agustiani he wanted to take the rest of the money, prompting the KPK to launch the raids, she said.
"KPK investigators seized the equivalent of Rp 400 million in Singapore dollar denomination from A.T.F., who was arrested at her home in Depok," Lili said, referring to Agustiani.
Harun reportedly got the backing from PDI-P executives to fill the vacant seat. After the KPU decided to pick Riezky Aprilia as a replacement for Nazarudin in August last year, the party went to the Supreme Court to ask for a judicial review, Lili said.
The KPU picked Riezky over Harun because she had won more votes in the April 2019 legislative election.
The Supreme Court issued a verdict stating that a replacement for a vacant House seat should be left to the party in question, not the KPU. However, the KPU didn't change the decision.
PDI-P then asked the court to issue an official statement confirming the earlier verdict. A copy of the Supreme Court statement was sent to Agustiani, who then forwarded it to Wahyu and reminded him about Harun's request for his help. Wahyu replied in a text message: "Copy that. Let's do it!" Lili said.
Agustiani is also a senior PDI-P member. Having served in Bawaslu in 2008-2013, she became PDI-P's House candidate representing Jakarta in 2014, and again last year when she tried her luck from the Jambi electoral region.
Reports said KPK investigators were denied entry as they came to the PDI-P headquarters on Jalan Diponegoro, Central Jakarta, to search evidence on Thursday.
PDI-P secretary-general Hasto Kristiyanto denied the party had obstructed law enforcement by the KPK. He said staffs of the PDI-P secretariat had asked KPK investigators to show a warrant before they could search the office.
"We have no intention to obstruct justice, we only ask for a warrant according to the legal procedures," Hasto told reporters in Jakarta. "If they could show [the warrant], all PDI-P staffs would have fully cooperated with the KPK as we always did," he said.
Hasto said the party will continue supporting the fight against corruption which he termed as "a crime against humanity". PDI-P will not hesitate to dismiss its members if found guilty of corruption, he said.