JAKARTA - An Indonesian judge yesterday found the country's former anti-graft chief guilty of masterminding the murder of a state businessman, but spared him the death penalty prosecutors had sought. Antasari Azhar (picture), 56, was sentenced to 18 years in prison.

Judge Herri Swantoro cited Antasari's politeness, dedication to the Corruption Eradication Commission and lack of a prior record in delivering the lighter sentence.

The case has gripped Indonesia since Antasari's arrest on May 4 last year for allegedly organising the murder of Nasrudin Zulkarnaen, his alleged rival for the affections of a 22-year-old golf caddy. The businessman was shot through the window of his car as he left a golf course.

The former prosecutor maintained he was being framed in retaliation for his efforts to nab high-ranking officials for corruption.

The five hit men involved in the killing each received between 17 and 18 years' imprisonment. In separate trials yesterday, police colonel Williardi Wizar was jailed 12 years for recruiting the hitmen, and businessman Sigit Haryo Wibisono sentenced to 15 years for financing the operation. Businessman Jerry Hermawan Lo, who introduced the hit men to Wizar, received the lightest sentence of five years. AGENCIES

From TODAY, Friday, 12-Feb-2010

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