JAKARTA, Feb. 12 (UPI) -- Indonesia's Supreme Court Thursday overturned a corruption conviction against Parliament Speaker Akbar Tandjung, allowing him to run for president.
"A team of judges found Akbar Tandjung ... not guilty of corruption," Judge Paulus Lotulong said.
In 2002, a Jakarta district court found him guilty of graft for misappropriating $4.5 million in state funds intended for food assistance to the poor. He was sentenced to three years in prison. An appeals court upheld the verdict, but the Supreme Court said the lower courts' decisions were based on "very weak legal evidence."
At Tandjung's house in Jakarta, dozens of supporters embraced one other, cheered and shouted "Allahu Akbar," or "God is great."
Legal activists, however, called the decision "shameful," adding it was a setback for the country's efforts to combat corruption.
"This is a shameful verdict," said Andi Asrun, of Indonesia's Judicial Watch. "There is no courage among the judges at the Supreme Court ..."
The court's ruling will pave the way for Tandjung, who leads former President Suharto's Golkar Party, to stand as the party's presidential candidate in Indonesia's first direct presidential elections on July 5.