Wed, 17 Dec 2003

Tommy to testify on Jan. 13

JAKARTA: Central Jakarta District Court presiding Judge Saparudin Hasibuan adjourned legal action initiated by Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra till Jan. 13 because the plaintiff was ill Tuesday.

Defendant Abdullah Sidiq Muin, an Islamic boarding school leader, did not appear in court either.

Prosecutor Ichwanul Saragih told the court that he met Tommy in Batu Penitentiary in Nusakambangan, Central Java, to find that "Tommy was sick".

"He ensured us through his lawyers that he would testify on Jan. 13 when the trial resumes," he said.

Tommy, the youngest son of former president Soeharto, is suing Sidiq, the spiritual leader of former president Abdurrahman "Gus Dur" Wahid, for allegedly extorting Rp 15 billion (US$1.76 million) from him.

Sidiq and another suspect Raden Dodi Sumadi allegedly asked for money in October 2000 to help arrange meetings between Tommy and Gus Dur. Tommy was seeking clemency from Gus Dur after he was sentenced to 18 months in prison for graft.

Tommy has now missed three consecutive court dates, irking Sidiq's lawyers who said that Tommy's absence indicated the plaintiff's degree of seriousness in the case.

"Without Tommy's presence, we can't proceed because he's the one who really knows what happened," said lawyer Budisantoso.

He said Sidiq was in Gambiran hospital in Kediri, East Java. -- JP