June 6, 2006
Jakarta: Three private groups of lawyers and activists yesterday filed suit against the Indonesian attorney general’s office for dropping a long-running corruption case against ailing former dictator Suharto.
The suits were filed by the Indonesian Association of Legal Attorneys and Human Rights Counselors, the so-called Advocacy Team for the Trial of Suharto, and an unnamed group of former student activists who opposed Suharto’s rule.
Andi Samsang Nganro, the presiding judge in the south Jakarta court, ruled yesterday that the suits would be heard together. Prosecutors initially accused Suharto of misusing $419mn, plus a further 1.3 trillion rupiah ($144mn) from seven charitable foundations he established during his rule.
Suharto did not attend any of three sessions of his corruption trial in 2000, pleading ill health. Last month, Attorney General Abdul Rahman Saleh said his office had dropped the charges against him for health reasons.
Lawyers for the groups said yesterday the decision by the attorney general’s office to drop the case against the 84-year-old Suharto ran contrary to the law, including anti-corruption laws.
Prosecutors could drop a case only when there was insufficient evidence or the defendant dies, attorneys for the Advocacy Team said in court.
In its arguments, the lawyers’ association quoted one of Suharto’s economy ministers as saying he had ordered all state banks to contribute 5% of their after-tax annual profits to the foundations he chaired.
The association also argued that Suharto’s salary was not enough to explain the extensive wealth he and his family had accumulated.
Hearings were to resume today.
Suharto stepped down amid mounting unrest in 1998 after ruling Indonesia with an iron grip for more than three decades.
The former autocrat has been in and out of hospital for various health problems in recent years. He was rushed to hospital early last month following a bout of intestinal bleeding, and was released last week.
Categories: Odious Debts