JAKARTA - INDONESIA needs to follow China's example and sentence officials convicted of corruption to death in order to stamp out massive graft in the country, a top judge said on Saturday.

Indonesia's current sentences for corruption are too soft and do nothing to deter corrupt officials, said Mohammad Mahfud, the chief justice of the Constitutional Court.

Officials 'are sentenced to only three to four year in jail, which is lighter than sentences given to petty criminals,' Mr Mahfud said.

He advocated the use of a provision in Indonesia's Anti-Corruption Law that allows judges to sentence convicts to death. It has never been used.

'In China, which carries out the death sentence for those convicted of corruption charges, there is a deterrent effect,' he said. 'If death sentences were used in Indonesia for corruption, it would reduce the cases.' China is trying to reduce the number of crimes that get the death penalty, but a legislator last month said China's lawmakers have never considered dropping the death penalty for corruption. People convicted of corruption should be subject to harsh penalties, lawmaker Chen Sixi said in an online chat with citizens, according to the People's Daily newspaper.

Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has been widely credited for the success of an anti-corruption campaign that started after he took office in 2004. Scores of corrupt politicians, entrepreneurs and law enforcement officials have been tried and convicted, including the father-in-law of one of Mr Yudhoyono's sons. According to advocacy group Transparency International's corruption index, Indonesia ranks 111th out of 180 countries.

Death penalty for graft needed