Prosecutors demand 16 years prison for Indonesian politician

Former speaker of Indonesia's parliament Setya Novanto, center, gestures after a break during his trial the Corruption Cases Court in Jakarta, Indonesia, Thursday, March 29, 2018. The top Indonesian politician was accused of involvement in a conspiracy of dozens of officials who used the introduction of an electronic ID system to steal more than $170 million of public money. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)
Former speaker of Indonesia's parliament Setya Novanto, center, sits on the defendant's chair during his hearing at the Corruption Cases Court in Jakarta, Indonesia, Thursday, March 29, 2018. The top Indonesian politician was accused of involvement in a conspiracy of dozens of officials who used the introduction of an electronic ID system to steal more than $170 million of public money. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)
Former speaker of Indonesia's parliament Setya Novanto prepare for sit during his hearing at the Corruption Cases Court in Jakarta, Indonesia, Thursday, March 29, 2018. Prosecutors are demanding 16 years in prison for Novanto accused of playing a key role in the theft by officials of $170 million of public money.(AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)
Former speaker of Indonesia's parliament Setya Novanto, center, enters the court room after a break during his hearing at the Corruption Cases Court in Jakarta, Indonesia, Thursday, March 29, 2018. Prosecutors are demanding 16 years in prison for Novanto accused of playing a key role in the theft by officials of $170 million of public money. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)
Former speaker of Indonesia's parliament Setya Novanto, center, smiles as he enters the court room after a break during his hearing at the Corruption Cases Court in Jakarta, Indonesia, Thursday, March 29, 2018. The top Indonesian politician was accused of involvement in a conspiracy of dozens of officials who used the introduction of an electronic ID system to steal more than $170 million of public money. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)

JAKARTA, Indonesia — Prosecutors demanded 16 years in prison for a senior Indonesian politician accused of playing a key role in the theft by officials of $170 million of public money.

At a sentencing demand hearing on Thursday, prosecutors also called for fines and the seizure of Setya Novanto's assets if he fails to return $7.4 million including a $135,000 luxury "Richard Mille" watch that he allegedly received as part of the conspiracy.

Anti-corruption police allege Novanto was among about 80 people, mostly officials and legislators, who used the introduction of a $440 million electronic identity card system in 2011 and 2012 to steal more than a third of the funds.

Novanto, the former speaker of Indonesia's parliament and senior member of the Golkar party, denies any wrongdoing.

Prosecutor Irene Putri told the special corruption cases court that the stolen money flowed through Indonesia, the U.S., Mauritius, India, Singapore and Hong Kong as the conspirators sought to hide its illegal origins.

She said the trial has revealed "new methods on how to drain money from the proceeds of crime without going through the national banking system, aiming to avoid the detection of financial authorities in Indonesia."

The corruption case, brazen and epic even by the standards of Indonesia's notoriously corrupt parliament, has caused outrage in the world's third largest democracy.

Novanto last year spent months eluding anti-graft officials.

In November, he was hospitalized after being involved in a car crash in Jakarta that was widely mocked online as another tactic to avoid arrest.

He was arrested in the hospital after doctors who examined Novanto said he was fit to stand trial.

Several other leading politicians, including ministers in President Joko "Jokowi" Widodo's government, are possibly implicated by the scandal.

Putri likened the anti-graft commission's investigations to a marathon and said it is continuing to pursue the case.

"We are not running out of energy to keep investigating," she said.

Prosecutors want Novanto to face a further three years in prison if an auction of his assets failed to raise $7.4 million. They said he should be banned from holding public office for five years following his prison term.

The trial is expected to resume on April 13 when lawyers for Novanto will respond to the prosecution.

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