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No death penalty call for Tommy Suharto

Tommy Suharto
Prosecutors opted for a lighter sentence for Tommy Suharto because he was 'polite'  

Staff and wires

JAKARTA, Indonesia -- Prosecutors in the trial of the Tommy Suharto are demanding he face a 15 year jail sentence for masterminding the murder of a Supreme Court judge -- a punishment critics described as 'a joke.'

Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra, the youngest son of ex-dictator Suharto, is accused of ordering the murder of Supreme Court judge Syafiuddin Kartasasmita, a crime punishable by death.

In 2000, Kartasasmita sentenced Tommy to 18 months in prison in connection to a multimillion-dollar real estate scam.

But the magistrate was subsequently gunned down by two men on motorbikes in July 2001, who claimed Tommy paid them to kill the judge.

Tommy, who turned 40 on Monday, has denied any wrongdoing. But prosecutors argued that the evidence against him was overwhelming.

CNN's Atika Shubert reports on the judge trying a man who symbolizes corruption in Indonesia.

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"The defendant ... is guilty of ordering or persuading (others) to murder the judge," said the chief prosecutor, Hasan Madani.

They cited the testimony of witnesses, weapons found at Tommy's hideouts, documents linking Tommy to the crime and bank statements showing he transferred tens of thousands of dollars to the killers.

However, prosecutors decided against recommending a harsh sentence for Tommy because he was young and had a family to support, and that he had been 'polite' during the trial.

But Tommy could still receive the death penalty despite the prosecutors' lenient demand if the court finds him guilty.

The court is scheduled to decide later this month whether to convict him. The trial began March 19.

A joke

The head of a leading Indonesian legal watchdog group meanwhile called the recommendation "a joke."

Muhammad Asrun, executive director of Judicial Watch Indonesia said the prosecutors' demands shows that "the system is corrupt."

"Many people will be upset and think this trial was a joke," he was quoted by The Associated Press news agency as saying.

In 2000, corruption charges against his father Suharto, 82, were dropped after he claimed to be too ill to face trial.

The cases against the Suhartos are seen as a test to President Megawati Sukarnoputri's commitment to rid Indonesia of corruption.

Tommy, considered as Indonesia' golden boy, was the first member of the family to be convicted.

He reportedly built himself an international business empire during his father's 32-year reign worth an estimated $800 million.


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