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Papua police officer escapes money laundering sentence

Papua Police Officer Charged With $129 Million Laundering Escapes with Two-Year Sentence

Jakarta. A court in Papua was unable to convict a low-ranking police officer of money laundering on Monday despite evidence of wire transfers totalling Rp 1.5 trillion ($129 million) from his bank accounts and the confiscation of 400,000 liters of fuel and tons of illegal lumber on a boat registered in his name.

Adj. First. Insp. Labora Sitorus was instead sentenced to two years in prison for illegal-logging activities.

“The defendant, L.S., has been proven convincingly guilty of a crime by buying forest products which were taken illegally,” the judge said, reading out the verdict on Monday. “So, L.S. is sentenced to two years in prison and a fine of Rp 50 million [$4,000].”

Prosecutors had demanded a 15-year prison term for Labora on charges of fuel smuggling, money laundering and illegal logging. The prosecution was not, however, able to prove the money-laundering and fuel-smuggling charges.

Labora was arrested in Jakarta in May, 2013, after authorities found 400,000 liters of fuel on a boat registered in his name. A total of 1 million liters have been seized by officials since Labora was first arrested. Some 2,264 cubic meters of illegal merbau lumber were also seized from the boat, and it is for this offense that Labora has been convicted.

The head of the Papua Prosecutors Office E.S. Maruli Hutagalung said that he would file an appeal to the West Papua High Court.

“A two-year sentence is far below the prosecutors’ request of 15 years, clearly it’s not commensurate with our demand, therefore we will file appeal,” Maruli said.

Maruli was at a loss to explain how a poorly paid member of the local police force could have been sentenced to just two years, when his office had, he said, produced evidence indicating that Labora had built up an extraordinary level of personal wealth from criminal activity.

“We indicted L.S. with cumulative charges of oil-and-gas [smuggling], illegal logging] and money laundering,” Maruli said. “But only the illegal logging was proved. Money laundering was not proved despite the money being transferred to his bank account.”

The National Police is frequently rated as the most, or one of the most, corrupt institutions in Indonesia in perceptions surveys. The recently inaugurated chief of the National Police, Comr. Gen. Sutarman, has said that sanitizing the image of the police is a priority during his tenure.

ENDS

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