Indonesia Parliament Speaker in custody of anti-graft agency

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JAKARTA Indonesia's Parliament Speaker Setya Novanto has been taken into custody by the country's anti-corruption agency after being arrested over his alleged role in causing state losses of US$170 million (S$230 million) linked to a national electronic identity card scheme.

Mr Novanto, wearing an orange vest worn by detainees of the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), was transferred from a hospital on Sunday to a KPK detention facility at its headquarters in Jakarta. He is one of the most senior politicians in Indonesia to be detained by the independent KPK.

Mr Novanto was arrested on Friday night, but KPK said it delayed enforcing his detention while he received treatment for injuries sustained in a car crash the day before.

KPK deputy head Laode Muhammad Syarif said that a doctor's statement showed that Mr Novanto no longer needed to be treated in hospital, "therefore according to standards and procedure, the delay of the arrest is no longer needed".

On Sunday night, Mr Novanto said he was still suffering from vertigo after the crash that he said had caused injuries to his leg, arm and head.

"I did not expect this (to happen) tonight. I thought I would be given time for recovery, but I obey the law," Mr Novanto was quoted by Kumparan as saying.

Officers from KPK had tried to arrest Mr Novanto, the chairman of Golkar, Indonesia's second largest party and partner in the ruling coalition, at his house in Jakarta late last Wednesday.

But investigators, watched by television cameras, failed to find him, sparking speculation that he had gone into hiding.

Later, Mr Novanto was involved in a car accident and his lawyer, Mr Fredrich Yunadi, said a journalist was driving the vehicle and interviewing his client at the time of the accident.

Mr Novanto has denied wrongdoing but has repeatedly missed summonses from the KPK for questioning, saying he was ill and needed to undergo heart surgery.

The KPK is investigating state losses amounting to US$170 million linked to a national electronic identity card scheme after allegations that sums ranging from US$5,000 to US$5.5 million - generated by marking up procurement costs - were divided up among politicians in Parliament.- REUTERS