World

Embattled Indonesian Speaker put under armed guard in hospital

JAKARTA Named as a suspect in a US$170 million ($S230.6 million) corruption case, the Speaker of Indonesia's parliament was put under armed guard at a hospital by anti-graft investigators after he was involved in a car accident, his lawyer said yesterday.

Officers from the Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) first tried to arrest Setya Novanto, the chairman of Golkar, Indonesia's second-largest party and partner in the ruling coalition, at his house in Jakarta late on Wednesday.

The swoop, watched by television cameras, failed to find Novanto, sparking speculation that he had gone into hiding.

On Thursday evening, the saga took a bizarre twist after reports Novanto was involved in a car crash while on his way to turn himself in at KPK headquarters. Novanto's lawyer, Fredrich Yunadi, said his client was being interviewed at the time of the accident by a journalist driving the vehicle.

"(The driver) was looking back and looking to the side, so he wasn't concentrating on what was in front of him," he said.

Novanto was now "very ill" with head and hand injuries, Mr Yunadi said.

"He can't even get up yet. He can't talk yet."

Armed KPK officers were now at the hospital, Mr Yunadi said, adding that they had ignored his requests to leave.

Novanto has previously denied wrongdoing, but has repeatedly missed summonses from the KPK for questioning in recent months, saying he was ill and needed to undergo heart surgery. - REUTERS

WORLD