Tue, 11 Apr 2000

Medical team foils Soeharto's questioning

JAKARTA (JP): An independent medical team from Cipto Mangunkusumo Hospital (RSCM) stepped in to foil on Monday the second sequel of questioning of former president Soeharto, citing the suspect's ill-health.

The team's leader Supardi Sudibyo said that during the medical assessment which preceded the questioning session, the state- appointed doctors claimed that Soeharto's health had worsened and he would not be able to undergo questioning.

"We are afraid there could be a recurrence of Soeharto's illnesses if state prosecutors insist on continuing the questioning," he told reporters, referring to Soeharto's mild stroke last year.

The initial questioning earlier this month was halted after 90 minutes due to medical reasons. Soeharto, a suspect of corruption during his 32-year rule, was able to avoid the planned resumption of the questioning on Friday last week due to his poor health.

Six prosecutors led by Purnama Munthe and two aides arrived at Soeharto's residence on Jl. Cendana at 1:15 p.m. on Monday. They had a personal computer and a video camera with them.

The prosecutors were accompanied by six RSCM doctors, who, together with Soeharto's nine-member private medical team, assessed the health of the 78-year-old former ruler in his bedroom.

Speaking at a media conference on the terrace of Soeharto's residence, Supardi said that during the two hours of medical examination, the joint medical team conducted cardiovascular, neurological and psychiatric tests on Soeharto.

Supardi said the tests showed that Soeharto's blood pressure reached a dangerous high of 180.

"There were deceleration of responses and a lack of eagerness found during the recent tests, which were much better than the initial check last month," Supardi, who is also vice director of medical services at RSCM, said.

He added that the team had suggested that the Attorney General's Office order a more comprehensive medical test on Soeharto before the questioning resumed.

Soeharto's lawyer and family spokesman Juan Felix Tampubolon said that his client, who has been wearing an oxygen mask since the questioning last week, had lost the ability to speak.

"He's getting worse every day," he added.

Soeharto's eldest daughter Siti Hardijanti Rukmana was the only family member present at the session, according to Tampubolon.

Former vice president Sudharmono arrived at Soeharto's residence at 10 a.m. and left at 3:40 p.m.

Munthe said his office postponed the questioning until the RSCM doctors officially announced that Soeharto was fit enough for the session to proceed.

"We will await until Soeharto is declared healthy," Munthe, also director of politics at the deputy attorney general for intelligence office, said.

Marzuki told The Jakarta Post on Sunday that should the questioning be halted again due to Soeharto's poor health, his office would proceed the summons. "We will call him again and again until he is stated fit to face questioning."

Soeharto made several public appearances, including meeting with President Abdurrahman Wahid on three occasions last month, before the first questioning session on April 5. (01)