Indonesia arrests Papua official for bribery in church construction

Kingmi Mile 32 Protestant Church Corruption Case Cost State Over US$1.4 Million

Firli Bahuri, Chairman of Indonesia’s Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK), speaking to reporters after the arrest of Mimika district chief Eltinus Omaleng on September 8. (Photo: ANTARA State News Agency)

Posted: September 09, 2022 10:21 GMT

Updated: September 09, 2022 10:40 GMT

A district chief in Indonesia’s Papua province has been arrested for alleged corruption in the construction of a church that cost the state more than $1.4 million.

The arrest of Eltinus Omaleng, head of Mimika district and suspect in the construction of Protestant church at Kingmi Mile 32, at a hotel in the city of Jayapura has been announced by the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK ) on September 8.

Firli Bahuri, the KPK chairman, said Omaleng did not cooperate when asked to appear for questioning by investigators. Therefore, an investigation team came to the hotel and made the arrest. Omaleng was then taken to Jakarta.

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A Jakarta court had dismissed Omaleng’s lawsuit against his statement as a suspect in the corruption case.

Bahuri said there were two other suspects, Marthen Sawy, head of the people’s welfare section of the Mimika district regional secretariat, who oversaw the project, and Teguh Anggara of PT Waringin Megah, the company of construction in charge of the construction contract of the church.

The actions of the suspects had resulted in an estimated loss of 21.6 billion rupees ($1.45 million) of which Omaleng, who had served as district chief since 2014, is believed to have received around 4.4 billion. rupees.

This is the first case of corruption linked to a church building project run by the KPK, an institution established in 2003 that specializes in handling corruption cases with state losses exceeding more than a year. billion rupees.

Natalius Pigai, a Papuan activist and former commissioner of the National Human Rights Commission, told UCA News that while it was absolutely necessary to strictly deal with cases of corruption, the need for community churches must also to be taken into account.

Petrus Selestinus, a Catholic lawyer and coordinator of Indonesia’s democracy defense team, said earlier the case was a lesson to all parties that building a place of worship should be free from corruption.

Law enforcement is expected to be fair in dealing with such cases to avoid “appearing to discriminate only against minority religions”, he added.

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