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Jembrana's Bupati Under Fire

Accused of Corruption, Balinese Groups Stage Protests Against Jembrana's Former Regent Gede Winasa.

(11/22/2010) Under a continuing investigation and the threat of incarceration for his part in the alleged corruption of funds in constructing a compost factory, the regent of Jembrana in Bali, Gede Winasa, is also facing angry public protests from a group of Balinese identifying themselves as the Regional Forum and Association for Self-Reliance (FORDA LSM).

In recent months, Winasa has been repeatedly called for questioning by the Bali Police over the loss of Rp. 2.3 billion (US$250,000) in building a compost processing plant in his West Bali regency.

Winasa, who officially ended his five-year term of office as Jembrana's regent (bupati) on Tuesday, November 16th, saw angry citizens remove stickers bearing his name from public service vehicles and ambulances, and defacing banners bearing his image in on public-service messages.

In the most extreme protest to date, members of the FORDA-LSM marched on the Public General Hospital in Tabanan. At the hospital, the group delivered speeches in the parking lot demanding Winasa's arrest before forcing their way into the facility where they removed Winasa's name from a VIP ward named in his honor. Indignantly, the protesters then sent the name board to a local prison for safe keeping. Later, Winasa's effigy was bathed at a mock funeral and then cremated. Finally, a statue of the former regent located within the hospital was toppled from its podium by the angry crowd who demanded it be sent to Winasa's home.

Winasa is awaiting trial in the corruption case that has already sent three Jembrana officials and one contractor to prison for terms ranging between 12 and 18 months. Local press reports allege Winasa's connections in high places are earning the politician special treatment, preventing police from placing him in under arrest pending his coming criminal trial.