Thu, 13 Apr 2000

Soeharto banned from travel

JAKARTA (JP): The Attorney General's Office announced on Wednesday that former president Soeharto is barred from leaving the country while the investigation into his alleged corruption case is being conducted.

Director of Corruption Affairs Chaerul Imam said on Wednesday that the travel restriction was imposed in order to simplify the investigation process.

"The ban is to ensure that Soeharto could fulfill every summons and be met with at any time," Chaerul told journalists.

He said that the ban was made in anticipation of news that Soeharto's family had planned to take the former ruler abroad for further medical treatment.

"I heard the news from the radio just recently, along with Head of Jakarta Court Luqman Bahmid. The Attorney General's Office doesn't want it to happen, otherwise it would hamper the investigation," he said.

Rumors had been rife that Soeharto's family had recently applied for U.S. visas and had bought a house in the United States.

A source from the embassy told The Jakarta Post that the country will reject any visiting permit applied for by a person who violates the law, is under a travel ban or has a record of misuse.

Chaerul said the travel restriction took effect on Wednesday and could be extended after six months if necessary. He added that a letter informing him of the ban had been delivered to Soeharto.

But one of Soeharto's lawyers, Juan Felix Tampubolon, said as of 8 p.m. that neither he nor his colleagues had received the notification.

Juan regretted the issuance of the travel ban, saying that Soeharto had never intended to go abroad.

"It is arrogance, not judicial concerns, that have led the Attorney General's Office to the decision to issue the travel ban. It's just baseless," Juan told reporters upon leaving his office at the Global Building on Jl. Gatot Subroto, South Jakarta.

Juan admitted, however, that certain parties whom he refused to identify had offered Soeharto assistance if he wished to seek medical treatment abroad.

"But Pak Harto turned down the offer, saying adequate medical treatment could be found in Indonesia," he said.

He added that Soeharto's team of lawyers would meet on Thursday to discuss the travel ban.

Soeharto was declared unfit to resume questioning on Monday by an independent team of doctors from Cipto Mangunkusumo Hospital (RSCM). Supardi Sudibyo, the team's leader, suggested that the Attorney General's Office order a more comprehensive medical test on Soeharto before the questioning resumes.

Chaerul Imam said on Wednesday his office was considering providing Soeharto with free medical treatment as suggested by the Indonesian Legal Aid and Human Rights Association recently.

"It depends on the RSCM doctors. If they ask the Attorney General's Office to give Soeharto medical care, we will do so. No problem," he said.

Soeharto was questioned at his residence early this month after he failed on three prior occasions to answer a summons for questioning, citing medical reasons.

The initial questioning on April 3 was stopped after 90 minutes and another round of questioning on April 10 was abandoned upon the request of doctors.

The latest medical assessment of his psychological state revealed that Soeharto was losing his ability and eagerness to respond. (01)