Page last updated at 14:24 GMT, Tuesday, 27 April 2010 15:24 UK

Indonesia opens first corruption prison

Indonesian protesters march during a rally marking the 100th day of President Yudhoyono's second term in Jakarta
In January thousands marched to express anger over corruption

Indonesia's justice minister has opened the country's first prison wing for people convicted of corruption.

The wing, which is part of Cipinang Penitentiary in East Jakarta, can house up to 256 inmates convicted of graft.

It was built after it emerged that many officials jailed for corruption were living relatively luxurious lives behind bars.

The facility already has 10 inmates, the Jakarta Globe said, including an ex-minister and a former lawmaker.

Sixteen single cells would hold aged or ailing inmates, the prison's architect said, with other inmates sharing 48 cells, each housing up to five people.

'Nothing special'

Justice Minister Patrialis Akbar told the BBC that the wing was needed to separate corruption convicts from petty criminals, and would reduce overcrowding in Indonesia's prisons.

"It is obvious we can not put them in the same place with those who committed murder or petty theft," he said.

"These so-called corruptors have in the past done so many good things for this country. They include professors, doctors, ex-government ministers, surely we can not put them with the other criminals?

"In fact we still need many of their brains to make this country better. Prison should be a correctional institution, not a vengeance institution," he said.

But he emphasised that the inmates would not be getting better treatment.

"There is nothing special nor any special facilities with this prison. It is just that we separate them from the criminal prison. There is no air-conditioner, not even fans, nor television. The mattresses are as thin as other prisons."

Indonesia is often ranked as one of the most corrupt countries in the world - something that extends to the prison system, where wealthy prisoners can secure better conditions.

In January an inspection of one prison found that a businesswoman jailed for five years for bribery was living in a large, carpeted single cell equipped with comfortable furniture, a fridge and a flat-screen television.

That same month thousands of Indonesians took to the streets of Jakarta to protest against corruption, and in particular against the arrest of two officials from the powerful anti-corruption commission.

Many Indonesians saw the arrests as an attempt to unfairly target one of the few institutions people think of as credible.

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