Raid reveals convicts buying ‘luxury’ cells (complete with private keys) at Indonesian prison: KPK

Indonesia’s Corruption Eradication Commission (KPK) has had some huge wins recently in their fight against the country’s pervasive corruption, such as the conviction of former house speaker Setya Novanto. However, the importance of such convictions is severely undercut when it turns out that those same convicts have been able to use their ill-gotten riches to purchase special treatment in prison, from luxurious amenities in their cells to keys that only they carry, allowing them to come and go as they please.

Officers from the KPK made a surprise raid on Sukamiskin Prison in Bandung on Saturday and said they found plenty of evidence to indicate that such practices were widespread within the infamous penitentiary under the rule of warren Wahid Husein, who had taken over the position just four months prior.

Wahid was one of six people arrested by the KPK in relation to their investigation of corruption at Sukamiskin. He was arrested at his home in Bandung, which is where Wahid also kept two brand new luxury cars that had allegedly been gifted to him by inmates in exchange for their special considerations.

“This is still preliminary information, but the rates for these room in Sukamiskin Prison range from IDR 200-500 million (USD 13,000 – 35,000),” said Deputy KPK Chairman Laode M. Syarif at a press briefing at KPK headquarters on Saturday as quoted by Tempo, adding that that was the base price for the luxury cells but that addition renovations could also be purchased.

The KPK showed video of the inside of some of the cells they found at the prison, which local media described as looking like the rooms of a “5-star hotel” complete with amenities including tasteful furniture sets, refrigerators, AC, flat screen TVs, private bathrooms and showers. Many prisoners were also found to have mobile phones and computing devices.

Perhaps most embarrassing, a few prisoners were found to be out  of their cells when the KPK raid occurred. Prison officials said they were out for medical reasons but sheepishly had to admit they did not have keys to open the cells. The KPK believes that some prisoners had purchased the privilege of carrying the only key to their cells.

Besides warden Wahid, several other prison officials were arrested by the KPK as well as Fahmi Darmawansyah, an inmate at the prison who allegedly bought Wahid a Black Mitsubishi Triton (the warden reportedly had requested a white one) as part of his luxury cell payment.

Stories about rich prisoners being able to purchase cells with luxury amenities in Indonesia are depressingly familiar. In June of last year, the warden at Cipinang Prison in East Jakarta was also fired after a raid by the National Narcotics Agency (BNN) uncovered a drug kingpin living in a “luxury cell” with amenities such as AC and even an aquarium. Even more outrageous examples from the past include a prisoner found to have been allowed out of jail to attend a tennis tournament in Bali and a female bribery convict who got to have maids and beauty treatments in her “palatial” cell that also had a karaoke room.

Numerous investigation have revealed such practices occurring at Sukamiskin in the past, before Wahid’s time as warden, including a Tempo investigation from early 2017 showing similar violations such as prisoners being able to order food from their favorite restaurants and hold parties inside prison with popular dangdut singers as entertainment.

Minister of Law and Human Rights Yasonna Laoly had promised at the time to crack down on such corrupt practices within Sukamiskin and other prisons. He is now facing calls that he be fired or step down.

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