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Indonesia's AG to appeal Tommy Suharto ruling

Tommy Suharto -- File
Tommy Suharto leaves police headquarters after being questioned in this September 2000 file photo  

JAKARTA, Indonesia -- Indonesia's attorney general's office has said it will appeal the Supreme Court's reversal of a graft conviction and an 18-month jail term against former president Suharto's fugitive son, Tommy.

Claiming that the High Court had made "a grave mistake," the attorney general's spokesman Mulyohardjo told Reuters that it would file an appeal in a week or two.

The country's highest legal body reversed on Monday the decision it made in September last year, which found Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra guilty of an $11 million land scam involving his retail firm Goro Batara Sakti and state logistics agency Bulog.

Tommy has been on the run since then, and was consequently declared Indonesia's most wanted man.

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But a day after the Supreme Court absolved him of graft charges, Tommy's lawyers announced that their client was finally ready to surrender himself to authorities.

Tommy is still being sought by the police for his alleged role in the murder of the Supreme Court judge who sentenced him. He has also been linked to a spate of fatal bombings in Jakarta.

Critics accuse former president Suharto and his six children of amassing up to $45 billion during his 32-year military-backed rule. But Tommy is the only Suharto to be convicted of graft.

Suharto, 80, was also charged last year in a separate graft case, but has evaded prosecution by claiming he is too ill and old to face trial.


Mulyohardjo noted that prosecutors have the right to appeal Monday's decision even though Supreme Court deputy chief Taufiq has said it was irreversible.

He also disputed new evidence the Supreme Court said had emerged which allowed it to overturn its guilty verdict.

The court said the new evidence showed Tommy was only an owner of the company but that he did not have a hand in its daily operation.

Megawati and Rachman
Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri shakes hands with Attorney General Muhamad Abdul Rachman  

"That's not new at all. It has been considered before," Mulyohardjo said.

Earlier, one of the three Supreme Court Justices who heard Monday's appeal denied he had taken bribes from members of the Suharto clan.

"If you can prove I accepted a bribe, report me to the attorney general," Supreme Court Deputy Chairman Muhamad Taufik told reporters.

But many activists, legal practitioners and politicians have slammed the Supreme Court's decision as a major blow to fighting graft in Indonesia.

Criticizing the latest ruling, a leading daily newspaper, Kompas, said in editorial on Thursday that: "In the eyes of many, our legal world now is so decayed that it cannot be trusted anymore."

Tommy's lawyer, however, said the public had to accept the verdict.

"What are (the public) so stubborn, wanting an innocent man to be punished?" lawyer Nudirman Munir told Reuters.


• Government of Indonesia

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