Tue, 18 Apr 2000

Lawyers protest over Soeharto's city arrest

JAKARTA (JP): Lawyers representing former president Soeharto, who is under investigation for alleged corruption during his 32 years of rule, demanded on Monday that the Attorney General's Office drop their client's city arrest.

One of Soeharto's lawyers, Juan Felix Tampubolon, said the decision to put Soeharto under city arrest was baseless regarding the former ruler's ailments.

"It was announced on Thursday that the arrest was aimed at speeding up the investigation. But in fact, the questioning was postponed due to Soeharto's ill-health, not because there were indications that he will sneak away.

"Moreover, all the medical examinations were conducted by the office's appointed team. The prosecutors had also acknowledged during their visits that our client was unfit to face questioning," Juan said.

The objection letter was delivered by Juan, who was accompanied by his colleague Indriyanto Seno Adji.

The city arrest came just 24 hours after the Attorney General's Office banned Soeharto from traveling abroad.

Chairul Imam, the director of corruption affairs at the Attorney General's Office, said Soeharto's city arrest would remain in effect for the benefit of the investigation.

"If we check on the suspect some time and find that he is fit enough, we can just immediately resume the questioning. But it would be difficult to do if he's out of town," Chairul was quoted as saying by Yushar Yahya, the Attorney General's Office spokesman.

Chairul also denied rumors that 78-year-old Soeharto had left Jakarta.

Separately, the chairman of the Indonesia Corruption Watch, Teten Masduki, suggested that the government grant amnesty to Soeharto provided that he confesses his guilt and agrees to yield at least half of the state's assets he had misused.

Speaking on the sidelines of a seminar in Denpasar, Bali, Teten said such amnesty was appropriate only for Soeharto, not his children and cronies, due to the political atmosphere surrounding his corruption case. (01/zen)