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Sex, lies and beef as racy scandal hits Indonesia's Islamic parties

JAKARTA -- Clandestine hotel room sex, money laundering and huge bribes to import beef evokes a seedy, criminal underworld rather than conservative politicians in the world's most populous Muslim nation.

But they all feature in a racy scandal that has shattered the clean image of Indonesia's biggest Islamic party and could further damage already-unpopular Muslim parties at national polls next year.

“The scandal ... has given Islamic parties as a whole a bad image,” said Umar S. Bakry, from pollster Lembaga Survei Nasional.

The controversy that has shocked the country peaked last week when an anti-corruption court sentenced the disgraced former president of the Prosperous Justice Party (PKS) to 16 years in jail.

Luthfi Hasan Ishaaq was found guilty of bribery and money laundering after accepting kickbacks from firm Indoguna Utama in return for pressing the PKS-controlled agriculture ministry to increase the company's beef import quota.

Two executives from the company had earlier been jailed over the case, dubbed “Beefgate” by local media, which has given blanket coverage to a scandal of enormous proportions even by the standards of graft-ridden Indonesia.

Ishaaq, who resigned as president of ruling coalition member PKS when the scandal emerged, has said he will appeal the guilty verdict against him.

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