Military chief vows transparent investigation into chopper graft case

Jakarta (ANTARA News) - Indonesias Military Chief General Gatot Nurmantyo has vowed to be transparent in the corruption investigation into the controversial purchase of an AgustaWestland helicopter (AW101).

"Dont worry, if we cant be transparent, I would not announce it here at the KPK headquarters (the Corruption Eradication Commission)," Gatot told the press here, Friday.

Also present on the occasion were Air Force Chief of Staff Air Chief Marshall, Hadi Tjahjanto, Military Spokesman Major General, Wuryanto, KPK Chief Agus Rahardjo and KPK Spokesman Febri Diansyah.

The Indonesian military has named three suspects in the graft case, namely Air Marshall FA, Lt.Col BW, and Warrant Officer SS.

Budget for the helicopter purchase was Rp738 billion (US$55 million, allocated from the 2016 state budget.)

The investigation found that the deal did not follow the proper procedures, causing a loss of Rp220 billion (US$17 million).

"I have asked the media to monitor the case. Nothing would be covered here, because it involves public money, and it has to be accounted for the public," Gatot stressed, adding that the authority could name more suspects in the case.

"I can tell you that it is not just a corruption case, but it is also subordination, disobedience, abuse of power, embezzlement, counterfeiting," he said.

The military chief admitted that President Joko Widodo had pressed him to solve the case soon.

"I want this case to be handled soon, to make it clear. I cannot sleep well because of the Presidents order," he said.

Gatot noted that he would not hesitate to target other suspects who have retired from the military.

Originally meant for the use of Indonesias president, Joko Widodo in 2015 rejected the AW101 helicopter purchase in favor of continuing to use an older helicopter.

Controversy over the Air Forces helicopter purchase deal grew late last year when Gatot sought to cancel it.

In response, Air Force officials said they had government and parliamentary approval to continue with the purchase and alter the craft to equip it for search and rescue missions.

Gatot then ordered an investigation into the deal.

The AW101 helicopter arrived in Jakarta in February, but was sealed at the capitals Halim military airbase.(*)