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Indonesian court rejects bid to dodge church graft trial

UCA News - August 26, 2022

Ryan Dagur – A court in Indonesia has rejected a petition filed by a district head in Papua asking it to dismiss a case against him in which he stands accused of corruption in a church construction project.

The dismissal application filed by Eltinus Omaleng, the Mimika district head in Papua province, who was named a suspect in the construction of the Protestant Kingmi Mile 32 Church was rejected by the South Jakarta District Court on Aug. 25.

Judge Wahyu Iman Santoso said the court has "rejected the application entirely."

Omaleng claimed that the powerful Corruption Eradication Commission did not have strong evidence to prove he had caused losses to the state, but the court ruled that this must be proven in the trial.

Ali Fikri, the commission's spokesman, said he appreciated the court's decision and was confident of winning the case.

"In handling corruption cases, our principle is that enforcing the law should not be done by violating the law," he said underlining that the commission had not violated the law when it named Omaleng as a suspect in the case.

The construction of the church cost more than 250 billion rupiah (US$16 million), according to media reports.

The case is recorded as the first to be handled by the commission, an institution formed in 2003 to investigate corruption cases involving losses of more than 1 billion rupiah.

Investigations into alleged corruption in the construction of the church were launched in 2020.

Petrus Selestinus, a Catholic lawyer and coordinator of the Indonesia Democracy Defending Team, said that the case was expected to be a lesson for all parties.

"Funds for the construction of houses of worship should be free from corruption. It is hoped that this case will provide a deterrent effect," he told UCA News.

However, he said, law enforcement is also expected to be fair as the matter involves allegations of corruption in the construction of a house of worship.

The trial should not "give the impression of discrimination by only targeting minority religions," Selestinus said.

Source: https://www.ucanews.com/news/indonesian-court-rejects-bid-to-dodge-church-graft-trial/9854