Indonesia politician's graft trial delayed by stomach woes

Former speaker of Indonesia's parliament Setya Novanto, center, walks as he is escorted by investigators during his trial in Jakarta, Indonesia , Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. The top Indonesian politician accused of involvement in one of the country's biggest corruption scandals told a court on the first day of his trial he's suffering a stomach complaint, forcing a postponement while his medical condition is checked. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)
Former speaker of Indonesia's parliament Setya Novanto, center, walks as he is escorted by investigators during his trial in Jakarta, Indonesia, Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. The top Indonesian politician accused of involvement in one of the country's biggest corruption scandals told a court on the first day of his trial he's suffering a stomach complaint, forcing a postponement while his medical condition is checked. (AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)
Former speaker of Indonesia's parliament Setya Novanto, center, talks to his lawyer during his trial in Jakarta, Indonesia , Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. The top Indonesian politician accused of involvement in one of the country's biggest corruption scandals told a court on the first day of his trial he's suffering a stomach complaint, forcing a postponement while his medical condition is checked.(AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)
Former speaker of Indonesia's parliament Setya Novanto, left, talks to his lawyer during his trial in Jakarta, Indonesia , Wednesday, Dec. 13, 2017. The top Indonesian politician accused of involvement in one of the country's biggest corruption scandals told a court on the first day of his trial he's suffering a stomach complaint, forcing a postponement while his medical condition is checked.(AP Photo/Achmad Ibrahim)

JAKARTA, Indonesia — A top Indonesian politician accused of involvement in one of the country's biggest corruption scandals told a court on the first day of his trial that he was suffering a stomach complaint, forcing a postponement while his medical condition was checked.

Lawyers for Setya Novanto, the former speaker of Indonesia's parliament, argued Wednesday he was too ill to stand trial but prosecutors said he was in good health. Judges postponed the hearing until later in the day.

Novanto was allegedly part of a conspiracy of dozens of officials who used the introduction of an electronic ID system to steal more than $170 million of public money.

He evaded questioning by anti-corruption officials for months but was arrested in November at a hospital after being involved in a car accident.

In court Wednesday, Novanto initially refused to respond to repeated questions from judges and then told the court, "I am suffering diarrhea, I asked for drugs but they were not given."

Prosecutors said prison guards reported he was coughing in his cell.

"This is a lie by the defendant," state prosecutor Irene Putri told the court before Novanto was excused for a checkup.

After two postponements, during which the defendant was examined at the court clinic, the five-judge panel concluded that he was fit to face trial and the hearing resumed.

The panel then allowed prosecutors to read out the indictment, in which Novanto was accused of involvement in the scandal and enriching himself and others.

Novanto, also a senior figure in the Golkar party, which is part of Indonesia's governing coalition, has denied any wrongdoing.

An admirer of U.S. President Donald Trump, Novanto made an unexpected appearance at a Trump news conference at Trump Tower in New York in September 2015 along with another Indonesian lawmaker, Fadli Zon. Novanto was introduced by Trump as one of Indonesia's most powerful men who would do great things for the U.S.

Must Read

Top Indonesia judge gets 8 years in prison for...

Sep 4, 2017

Indonesia's corruption court has sentenced one of the country's top judges to eight years in prison...

Villagers race to save Bali cows from volcanic...

Sep 30, 2017

Bali's gently lowing cows, prized for their hardiness and doe-like temperament, won't become...

The Latest: Indonesia says 100,000 should leave...

Nov 27, 2017

Indonesia's Disaster Mitigation Agency says as many as 100,000 villagers need to leave the expanded...

Bali volcano ash drifts 4.7 miles high, airport...

Nov 29, 2017

An erupting volcano with a deadly history on Indonesia's Bali island has spread drifting ash 7,600...

Indonesia police probe Aceh abuse of transgender...

Feb 3, 2018

Muslims in Indonesia's conservative and semiautonomous Aceh province are protesting an...

People also read these

Top Indonesia judge gets 8 years in prison for...

Sep 4, 2017

Indonesia's corruption court has sentenced one of the country's top judges to eight years in prison...

Qatar's leader urges end to trade embargo, calls...

Oct 18, 2017

Qatar's emir has urged neighboring states to lift an "unfair" 4-month-old trade embargo and said...

Volcano gushing ash over Bali closes airport for...

Nov 28, 2017

A volcano gushing towering columns of ash closed the airport on the Indonesian tourist island of...

Diphtheria deaths in Indonesia spark immunization...

Dec 11, 2017

Indonesia has begun a campaign to immunize 8 million children and teenagers against diphtheria...

AP Exclusive: Pulp giant tied to companies...

Dec 20, 2017

AP Exclusive: Indonesian paper giant Sinarmas is linked to opaque network of shell companies that...