Jakarta – The Attorney General's Office (AGO) has named three prosecutors in Indragiri Hulu regency, Riau suspects for allegedly extorting Rp 650 million (US$43,902) from 63 junior high school principals.
The three were prosecutors with Indragiri Hulu Prosecutor's Office, namely the office head, identified as HS, the special crimes section head, OAP, and the confiscated goods and evidence subsection head, RFR.
They were named suspects and detained for questioning on Tuesday.
According to the AGO, the source of the extortion was the school operational aid (BOS) funds disbursed by the central government to schools in the regency in 2019.
AGO legal communication head Setiyono estimated that the suspects had received between Rp 10 million and Rp 15 million from the Rp 65 million each of the schools received in the first phase of disbursement.
"While we are still investigating the case, we estimate that the total [extorted funds] is around Rp 650 million," Setiyono said as quoted by kompas.com on Tuesday.
The AGO will investigate further to determine whether the suspects had committed similar offenses in years past.
The suspects have since been dismissed from their positions and charged under articles 12 or 11 of the 2001 Corruption Law, which prohibits civil servants and public administrators from accepting bribes and carries a maximum sentence of 20 years' imprisonment upon conviction.
Authorities also punished three other Indragiri Hulu Prosecutor's Office officials for allegedly abusing their power and accepting gratuities. However, the three were not named suspects and acted as witnesses in the case.
The investigation into the case began after 63 middle school principals in the regency – previously reported as 64 – simultaneously resigned last month following what they dubbed as intimidation by parties from the prosecutor's office and a local organization in managing the 2019 BOS funds.
The principals claimed that the parties threatened to disrupt school activities if they were not given a cut from the BOS funds.
The principals also said their resignations were linked to the education and culture minister's decision issued in July that allowed school principals the freedom to manage BOS funds for necessary purposes amid the COVID-19 pandemic.
They said that they felt uncomfortable with the policy, criticizing the lack of detailed explanation in the new guideline to use the funds. (mfp)