The hunt for Tommy Suharto
By Maria A. Ressa
JAKARTA, Indonesia (CNN) -- It’s two in the morning and a police roadblock is stopping cars. I roll down my window and ask why.
“We’re looking for Tommy,” answered the policeman.
Once Indonesia’s flashiest playboy, Tommy Suharto has now turned into its most hunted fugitive.
It’s a twisted tale of high-power, fast money, corruption, violence and death.
Tommy Suharto, the youngest son of former President Suharto, is the first of his family to be convicted for corruption, sentenced to 18-months in prison last September.
Since then he has successfully evaded arrest -- many here believe with the support of some of the police and top military officials.
“There is always a possibility that Tommy is being assisted by old generals from the police and military,” says Hendardi, the head of the Indonesian Association for Legal Aid and Human Rights.
Some blamed police incompetence, but all that seems to be changing. Soon after President Megawati Sukarnoputri took office on July 23, the police intensified its manhunt -- turning up some concrete results.
Last week after raiding the homes of some of his friends, police say they found weapons and explosives which link Tommy Suharto to a series of bombings that have hit Jakarta in the past 14 months.
Police also say two men arrested last week confessed Tommy had ordered them to kill the Supreme Court judge who convicted him of graft. Judge Syafiuddin Kartasasmita was assassinated by men on motorcycles on July 26.
His widow, Iwa Setiawati, told the Jakarta Post Tommy had tried to bribe her husband at least twice through intermediaries.
She said that in September or October last year, her husband was offered a “down payment” of two billion rupiah or about $210,000 to meet Tommy.
Her husband also rejected a second offer of five billion rupiah, but did meet Tommy -- for no payment -- later on. Setiawati said Tommy asked the judge to “pay attention” to his case. Still, her husband convicted him, perhaps causing his own death.
Over the past few days, the police have questioned Tommy’s two sisters and his wife, both of whom defended their brother.
Elder sister Tutut claimed she received a call from Tommy saying he was willing to surrender to clear his name. However, she gave no other promises or details
On Monday, police raided the home of Suharto’s grandson Ari Sigit Suharto. They found 70 rounds of ammunition, but no sign of his uncle. Still, Ari has been named a suspect and placed under detention for 24 hours.
Police say that will give them time to determine whether they have enough evidence to formally arrest him.
Ari Sigit has denied owning the bullets.
And the tale continues.
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