Indonesian President’s Team Files Charges Against Anti-Malaysian Vigilantes

After weeks of denials about alleged links between the PT Bank Century bailout and President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono’s campaign, members of his re-election team came out swinging on Tuesday. Three cabinet ministers and Democratic lawmaker Edi Baskoro, Yudhoyono’s son, filed a defamation complaint against the People’s Democratic Defense, better known as Bendera. The fringe nationalist group first gained notoriety this year for setting up roadblocks in Central Jakarta to harass Malaysians and “planning” an invasion of the neighboring nation over claims it had stolen Indonesian culture. Bendera claimed on Monday that it had solid evidence that nearly Rp 2 trillion ($212 million) from the controversial Rp 6.7 trillion Century rescue was allegedly channeled to Yudhoyono’s campaign, members of his inner circle and state agencies. Accompanying Edi to file the charges were Coordinating Minister for Political, Legal and Security Affairs Joko Suyanto, Sports and Youth Minister Andi Mallarangeng and Coordinating Minister for the Economy Hatta Radjasa. They accused Bendera and its coordinator, Mustar Bona Ventura, of slander and defamation when they lodged the complaint at the Jakarta Police headquarters in South Jakarta. Andi’s brothers Rizal and Choel of the Fox Indonesia consultancy, which worked on Yudhoyono’s re-election campaign, joined him to file the complaint, which also included Bendera member Ferdi Simaun. The complaint was filed as Yudhoyono on Tuesday reiterated that he had not received money from the bailout. Bendera has claimed that Rp 1.8 trillion from the bailout funds went to Yudhoyono, the General Elections Commission (KPU), the Indonesian Survey Institute (LSI), FOX Indonesia, the Democratic Party, Edi, Hatta, Joko, businesswoman Hartati Murdaya and the three Mallarangeng brothers. “Today, we, as citizens who obey the law, reported two citizens who on Nov. 30, held a press conference and issued a statement that we received Century bailout money. It was a lie and defamation,” Hatta Radjasa told the press, referring to the two Bendera members. Bendera’s Mustar said he was ready to face any legal consequences and was also prepared to show police evidence, which he said was the result of the group’s two-month investigation into the flow of the Century funds. “However, we cannot give the details on our investigations now,” Mustar said. “We want the Financial Transaction Reports and Analysis Center [PPATK] to reveal their data to the public immediately. I’m sure it will not be much different from ours,” he said. PPATK has also strongly denied leaking data in connection to the bailout.

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