Indonesia Cabinet minister arrested in graft investigation

JAKARTA (AP) — Indonesia’s anti-corruption commission said it arrested the country’s fisheries minister yesterday amid an investigation into exports of lobster larvae.

Maritime Affairs and Fisheries Minister Edhy Prabowo was arrested upon arrival at the Jakarta’s Soekarno-Hatta International Airport from a working visit to the United States (US), the Deputy Chairman of the Corruption Eradication Commission Nurul Ghufron, told Kompas TV.

“The arrest is related to lobster seed exports,” Ghufron said without elaborating in comments aired on the station.

He said investigators were still questioning Prabowo and another announcement would be made later.

Prabowo earlier this year rolled back a ban on lobster larvae exports put in place by his predecessor. That decision sparked criticism from his predecessor and activists over sustainability concerns.

President Joko Widodo said he respected the decision of the anti-corruption commission, known in Indonesia as the KPK, to arrest Prabowo.

“I believe the KPK works in a transparent, open and professional manner,” Widodo told reporters. “The government consistently supports corruption eradication efforts.”

If Prabowo is charged with a crime it could further tarnish Widodo’s credibility when it comes to fighting corruption. Two previous members of Widodo’s Cabinet have already been sentenced to prison terms in corruption cases.

Former Social Affairs Minister Idrus Marham was sentenced to five years in prison for involvement in a bribery case related to a coal-fired power plant project on Sumatra island, while former Youth and Sport Minister Imam Nahrawi was sentenced to seven years after he was found guilty of personally using a National Sports Committee grant.

Prabowo is the deputy chairman of the Great Indonesia Movement Party, or Gerindra, formerly a rival to Widodo’s party. He joined the Cabinet in October 2019 as part of an alliance forged after Widodo’s election to a second term.

Widodo campaigned in part on a pledge to run a clean government in a country that ranked 85th out of 180 countries in the 2019 Corruption Perceptions Index compiled by Transparency International.