Subject: Prominent Indonesians Call For Soeharto's Trial [+Health update; 6 articles]

6 articles:

- Indonesian national figures call for Soeharto's trial

- Anti-graft agency may investigate Suharto's graft allegations

- Soeharto still in critical condition: Doctors

- SBY leaves Soeharto case to law enforcers

- Indonesia marks eighth anniversary of downfall of ex-dictator Suharto

- News Focus: Soeharto's health and legal case


Indonesian national figures call for Soeharto's trial

JAKARTA, May 21 (Xinhua) -- A number of Indonesian national figures called for the continuation of former president Soeharto's trial process.

"Soeharto can be tried in absence to make his legal status clear," Antara news agency on Sunday quoted former chief economic minister Kwik Kian Gie as saying.

Kwik, who was attending a function on Saturday to mark National Awakening Day at the `Gedung Joang 45' building together with a number of other national leaders, said Soeharto had to pass through a legal process before he could be pardoned.

Former chairman of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) Amien Rais concurred with Kwik's opinion.

"After a legal process, the wealth he amassed illegally should be returned to the state," Amien said.

Soeharto was rushed to a hospital here early this month or two weeks after Attorney General Abdul Rahman Saleh declared he would re-open the former strongman's case.

Soeharto had to undergo intestinal surgery to cut 40 cm of his colon to stop intestinal bleeding.

Soeharto was charged with corruption and gross human rights abuses during his 32 years in power.

He stepped down in 1998 when social and political chaos engulfed Indonesia. He has suffered from several strokes since then. His lungs and kidneys have also been sources of medical trouble.


Anti-graft agency may investigate Suharto's graft allegations

By CHRIS BRUMMITT, Associated Press Writer

JAKARTA, MAy 20 (AP) -- Indonesia's anti-corruption agency said Saturday it might bring former dictator Suharto to trial on graft charges, as students rallied across the nation demanding the hospitalized ex-leader face justice for alleged human rights crimes and corruption.

A doctor treating Suharto said he was no longer receiving blood transfusions following surgery two weeks ago for intestinal bleeding, but that the 84-year-old remained in an "unstable" condition.

Suharto was ousted after 32 years in power in May 1998 amid nationwide riots and student protests. The U.S.-backed regime is generally regarded as among the most corrupt and brutal in recent history, but he has never faced trial.

Last week, the country's attorney general dropped long-standing corruption charges against Suharto, saying he was too ill to stand trial.

The government's anti-corruption agency, which has the power to investigate and prosecute graft allegations, said it might try and bring Suharto to trial on fresh graft charges in absentia, given his poor health.

"There is a possible breakthrough," Erry Harjapamengkas, deputy head of the agency, told The Associated Press. "But we have to see whether the evidence can be easily and quickly obtained."

The move by the attorney general to drop the case angered anti-graft and human rights activists, but was welcomed by his supporters, many of whom still occupy powerful positions within the bureaucracy.

On Saturday, small groups of students rallied in at least seven Indonesian cities, media reports and witnesses said. In Yogyakarta on Java Island, several dozen protesters held up banners saying "Suharto, the mastermind of the massacres in the country" and "He is the killer of the people."

Suharto, who denies stealing any money from the country, has been hospitalized at least four times since his ouster, and has suffered a series of small strokes that doctors say have affected his memory and speech.

Aside from intestinal bleeding, doctors currently treating Suharto also say some of his vital organs are weakening, and have describing his condition as "critical".

"His health is still fluctuating," presidential doctor Adji Suprajitno told reporters Saturday. "It is still too soon to say he is getting better."

Sunday marks the 8th anniversary of Suharto's downfall.

Critics say he, his family and a small elite became fantastically rich during the regime due to corrupt business deals, often with multinational companies. They also say Suharto should be charged in connection with at least 500,000 political killings during his regime, as well the deaths of tens of thousands of people in the separatist regions of Papua, Aceh and East Timor, now an independent country.

But official history books largely gloss over the atrocities, and many Indonesians remember his rule for rapid economic growth, stability and cheap rice and feel he should be allowed to live out the remainder of his life without disturbance.


The Jakarta Post Sunday, May 21, 2006

Soeharto still in critical condition: Doctors

Former president Soeharto was in a stable but critical condition Saturday, said his doctors, adding that he was conscious and that his kidneys were functioning well enough for someone his age.

"His condition is better than it was yesterday. His hemoglobin count has increased from 9.1 percent decimeter to 10.1 and he is breathing more comfortably," said one of his doctors, Djoko Rahardjo, at the Pertamina hospital, South Jakarta.

The normal red blood cell count is between 13 and 16 percent decimeter.

Soeharto has been in the hospital two weeks for intestinal bleeding. He had minor surgery on Friday to remove blood under his skin from an earlier operation. He has undergone three bouts of surgery since May 4.

Doctors have said his recovery has been extremely slow because medication for one ailment would affect other organs, which are under-functioning due to his age.

Djoko said Soeharto would not significantly recover until his intestines, operated on recently, started to function normally.

We're still maintaining the pipes in his intestines, so we can't say that he's out of his critical condition yet," he said.

Soeharto was still experiencing Myoclonic seizures, but not as frequently as he was yesterday, Djoko said.

Pertamina hospital director Adji Suprajitno said Soeharto was still drowsy and his stomach was filled with gas.

Soeharto could recognize a few people, especially his family members. "He has started to communicate with other people around him," he said.

Among the very important people who have visited Soeharto at his sick bed are Coordinating Minister for People's Welfare Aburizal Bakrie, businesswoman Mooryati Soedibyo and former trade minister Luhut Panjaitan. None would discuss Soeharto's condition with journalists.


The Jakarta Post Sunday, May 21, 2006

SBY leaves Soeharto case to law enforcers

The Jakarta Post, Jakarta

After coming under attack for his soft stance on the critically ill former dictator Soeharto, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has delegated the ex-president's corruption case to law enforcement.

Yudhoyono said he would not intervene in the legal process on Soeharto "so as not to make mistakes" and because he wanted to see the supremacy of the law be upheld.

"I'm not supposed to interfere so let law enforcers handle it," he told student activists in Bandung, while street protests demanding Soeharto's trial continued in major cities throughout the country Saturday.

The statement clarified Cabinet Secretary Yusril Ihza Mahendra's announcement last week that Yudhoyono would drop Soeharto's case and then rehabilitate his name.

Yudhoyono made the statement in front of 11 student leaders from various universities in Bandung, who gave him a petition demanding that his administration consistently pursue political and educational reforms as it had promised.

The statement came a week after he stirred national resentment by saying he would not decide anything on the Soeharto case until the controversy settled down.

Critics say Yudhoyono should take a firm stance on Soeharto, while the former president's supporters have demand clemency and his opponents a fair trial.

Adding fuel to the debate was Attorney General Abdul Rahman Saleh's decision to stop the corruption charges on the grounds Soeharto was too sick to stand trial. Abdul Rahman tried to calm the public by promising he would file a civil case against Soeharto to regain his money and assets.

Soeharto was charged in 2000 with embezzling US$419 million and Rp 1.3 trillion through seven of his charitable foundations during his 32 year reign over Indonesia. The legal proceedings were postponed the same year, when doctors declared Soeharto to have suffered permanent brain damage after a stroke.

But his political opponents are demanding Soeharto be taken to court for his alleged crimes against humanity, such as the killing of hundreds of thousands of suspected communists in 1965 and the thousands of deaths that were the result of the 1989-1998 military operation in Aceh.

In Jakarta, spokesman for the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) Hidayat Nurwahid and long-time critic of Soeharto Amien Rais and thousands of students elsewhere stepped up the pressure for Soeharto's trial.

Nurwahid said Soeharto's trial should continue because an 1998 MPR decree on corruption eradication explicitly requiring Soeharto and his cronies be taken to court remains in place.

The MPR decree was drafted as part of the political reforms to be pursued after the fall of Soeharto.

"Reformation should not stop and Soeharto has to be tried," he said.

Amien Rais said to pardon Soeharto without due legal process, as the former dictator's supporters were demanding, was unacceptable.

"If this happens, it would set a bad precedent in which corrupt top officials could demand the same thing," he said.

Students took to the streets in Palembang, South Sumatra; Makassar, South Sulawesi; Semarang and Surabaya, demanding Soeharto should be brought to trial and his assets be seized for the state.

In Makassar, scores of students picketed the local prosecutors' office, demanding the Attorney General's Office revoke its decision to halt criminal charges against Soeharto.

In Surabaya, hundreds of students clashed with police who blocked their way to the state-owned radio station, RRI, where they planned to air their demands. No injuries were reported.


Indonesia marks eighth anniversary of downfall of ex-dictator Suharto

By CHRIS BRUMMITT Associated Press Writer

JAKARTA, May 21 (AP) - Indonesia marked the eighth anniversary of former dictator Suharto's downfall on Sunday still divided on whether to bring charges against the man regarded by many as heading one of the most corrupt and brutal regimes in recent history.

Suharto remained in hospital following colon surgery two weeks ago to stem intestinal bleeding. Doctors said Sunday the 84-year-old, who has been weakened by several strokes, was recovering, but remained seriously ill.

Last week, the attorney general dropped long-standing corruption charges against the former army general because of his ill health, angering human rights activists but cheering his supporters, many of whom became rich during his 32-year rule and remain in powerful positions within the bureaucracy.

"The country is split," said Erry Harjapamengkas, deputy head of Indonesia's anti-corruption agency. "Some groups want him to be forgiven, while the younger generation wants to see him in court."

In Jakarta, around 200 protesters rallied outside the presidential palace carrying a man wearing a Suharto mask in a bamboo cage, one of several demonstrations calling for the former strongman to be brought to trial.

"(President) Yudhoyono has to take a clear step on Suharto by putting him on trial and then returning the stolen money to the state," said Purnomo, a protester in the central Javanese city of Yogyakarta. Like many Indonesians, Purnomo goes by a single name.

The country has had four presidents since Suharto's ouster in 1998 amid pro-democracy protests and rioting, but none have been able to decide on what to do with the former dictator and his superrich children.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, himself an ex-army general who rose swiftly through the ranks during the Suharto years, has refused to take sides in the debate, saying Saturday that the decision was purely up to law enforcement agencies.

Marzuki Darusman, who was attorney general when the original corruption charges were laid against Suharto in 2000, said that case was just the tip of the iceberg, but predicted powerful forces would likely prevent any more legal moves against him.

"There are forces of resistance within the bureaucracy, really the armed forces, which think this is as far as things should go," he said.

Suharto, who denies stealing any money from the country, has been hospitalized at least four times since his ouster, and doctors say the strokes have affected his memory and speech.

Aside from intestinal bleeding, doctors currently treating Suharto also say some of his vital organs are weakening.

Critics say he should be tried in absentia if he is too ill to come to court.

Human rights activists also say Suharto should be also charged in connection with at least 500,000 political killings during his regime, as well the deaths of tens of thousands of people in the separatist regions of Papua, Aceh and East Timor, now an independent country.

But official history books largely gloss over the atrocities, and many Indonesians remember his rule for rapid economic growth, stability and cheap rice and feel he should be allowed to live out the remainder of his life without disturbance.


News Focus: Soeharto's health and legal case

By: Andi Abdussalam

Jakarta, May 20 (ANTARA) - While former president Soeharto is still going through a critical stage in his treatment at Pertamina hospital, a public controversy is raging outside the hospital about his fate as a leader accused of massive corruption.

The former Indonesian strongman who was facing critical political stage these weeks eight years ago is struggling for his life at the hospital. Outside the hospital, those discontented with the handling of his legal case are calling for his trial in absentia.

Calls for his trial in absentia were among others made by former president Abdurrahman Wahid and former chairman of the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) Amin Rais. The same call was also made by the ranks of law enforcers and other quarters.

On the opposite side, there are also suggestions that Soeharto be given amnesty, pardon or clemency. Soeharto's case should well be closed.

Abdurrahman Wahid and Megawati Soekarnoputri, two most harmed parties when Soeharto was in power did nothing to settle Soeharto's legal status when they were president.

This means that Soeharto's case can basically be closed," Jimly Asshidiqie, chairman of the Constitutional Court, said.

In the meantime, Attorney General Abdul Rahman Saleh, who vowed to reopen Soeharto's case last month, earlier this week issued a stop-investigation letter, dropping his office's charges against the former Indonesian leader because he was seriously ill.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono called his ministers on Friday to discuss the recent health development of Soeharto who underwent a second operation to remove a blood clot inside his abdomen. Two weeks earlier, doctors had to cut off 40 cm of his colon to stop intestinal bleeding.

The ailing former president, who turns 85 on June 8, 2006, is charged with graft and gross human rights violations during his 32 years in power. He was accused of unlawfully collecting Rp1.3 trillion and US$419 million through seven foundations he had led while he was president.

Efforts to take Soeharto to court were made a year after his downfall from power. He stepped down when a reform movement, socio-political chaos, mass demonstrations and students shooting engulfed Indonesia in May 1998.

But efforts to prosecute him always failed as the octogenarian's health was not good for trial. He has suffered several strokes. Now he also has heart and kidney problems.

Health And Legal Case

He made headlines when he had a mild stroke and was rushed to Pertamina hospital on July 20, 1999. He was hospitalized for ten days.

He returned to the same hospital for six-days on August 14, 1999 because of digestive bleeding.

Soeharto underwent medical tests at the Gatot Subroto hospital in August 1994 where it was discovered he had kidney stones. He also underwent a three-day medical checkup at a cardiac hospital in the German spa town of Bad Oeyhausen in July 1996 and in December 1997 suffered from exhaustion and was forced to cancel his planned overseas trips.

On October 11, 1999, Attorney General Ismudjoko, due to lack of evidence, issued an order to stop his office's inquiry into alleged acts of corruption, particualry in Soeharto's past position as head of a number of charity foundations.

Ismudjoko's successor, Marzuki Darussman, revoked his predecessor's `stop-investigation'order and reopened Soeharto's alleged case.

On February 10, 2000, Darusman named Soeharto a suspect in a widening corruption and power abuse probe, and summoned him for questioning on February 14, 1999 but the former general failed to show up due to ill health.

Soeharto had several times defied attorney general's office summonses citing health reasons. His medical team said the former president was unfit for investigation. This prompted the attorney general's office to request a team of doctors from the Cipto Mangungkusumo hospital to examine his health.

The team said that Soeharto was fit for investigation but underlined that it could not guarantee that he was verbally able to speak.

Thus, on April 3, 2000, a team of investigators from the attorney general's office questioned Soeharto in his Cendana residence but the team had to stop its questioning as Soeharto's blood pressure was increasing.

The attorney general's office team of prosecutors also backed down on April 10, 2000 when it came to Soeharto's home to question him as the medical team said Soeharto's blood pressure had gone up to 180/90-95.

On April 13, 2000, President Abdurrahman Wahid who was on a visit in Cuba to attend a G-77 meeting asked Attorney General Marzuki Darusman to put Soeharto under house arrest if he refused to be examined.

The attorney general's office had earlier in the day put him under city arrest for a period of 20 days and on the previous day it imposed a travel ban, preventing him from leaving overseas for one year.

Darusman's office's efforts to questioned Soeharto had always faced difficulties for his health reason. In the second week of June, 2000, a team of investigators of the AGO posed 32 questions to Soeharto at his Cendana residence but the former president answered most of the questions with " I do not remember it."

He was then sent to the "Yayasan Harapan Kita" cardiac hospital to have his brain checked in case he was suffering from brain disorder or to assure that he was not pretending to be unable to answer a question.

Meanwhile, Soeharto's team of lawyers had requested the UN's High Commissioner on Human Rights to check whether Soeharto's investigation and house arrest by the attorney general's office had violated his human rights.

Three weeks later, Soehato's lawyer Juan Filix Tampubolon said the medical tests of his team of 24 personal doctors indicated he had suffered brain damage. His brain power was recorded at 15, lower than the normal figure of 36.

He could not associate one matter with another and could not answer complicated questions.

In the face of public pressure to bring the former ruler to court, the government on August 3, 2000 formally charged him with graft, having him sign a document acknowledging his case was now in the hands of prosecutors.

The decision was taken only four days before MPR opens its annual session to hear President Abdurrahman Wahid's progress report in August 2000.

His first trial was held by the South Jakarta district court at the auditorium of the Ministry of Agriculture on August 31, 2000. But he failed to show up at the court proceedings for health reason.

The court proceedings were held three times on August 31, Sept 14 and Sept 28. The Attorney General's Office team of doctors even told the Sept 28 court session that Soeharto was physically and mentally unfit to stand trial.

He was also declared to suffer permanent brain damage. Thus, the court decided to halt the trial and return the dossiers to the prosecutors office. It also freed the former strongman from city arrest.

Several years later

After several years, Soeharto began to appear in public and looked physically healthy. The most recent appearances included his attendance at the marriage of one of his grand-daughters and a meeting with his long-time friend, former Malaysian prime minister Mahathir Mohamad last month.In February, Soeharto also met with former Singapore prime minister Lee Kuan Yew.

While calls for his prosecution surfaced once again, Attorney General Abdul Rahman Saleh said last month he would reopen Soeharto?s case and recheck his health. The attorney general said he would think of other legal avenue to arraign the former president in court if the health check found him unfit for trial.

However, the attorney general had to wait once again because about two weeks after he made the statement, Soeharto was rushed again to the hospital for intestinal bleeding. This time, his digestive problem was serious. He was forced to undergo intestinal surgery and to have 40 cm of his colon cut off to stop the bleeding.

Soeharto is now lying in hospital while his legal case is still in limbo. Over a half decade has passed without a consensus on his definitive status. This is because the problem belongs to all. The problem clearly speaks volumes of his case having become a "political commodity". If all remain unwise and continue to "squabble", then this problem will continue to hang over as well.

"I have chosen to put this issue on hold until a truly appropriate time has come. I call on society to be calm again so that we can think together later on how to settle this matter correctly, justly and wisely," President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono said last week.

------------------------- Joyo Indonesia News Service

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