Suharto Targeted over Charity Funds

JAKARTA ~ Prosecutors plan to sue former president Suharto for alleged misuse of charitable funds if he ignores a summons to be issued soon, Attorney General Abdul Rahman Saleh said.

Suharto, 85, has so far escaped trial over allegations he amassed billions of dollars in state assets – including through charitable foundations he ran – during the three decades he ruled Indonesia with an iron fist.

“Before we file a suit, we will first send the summons,” Saleh told journalists, adding it was expected to be ready later this week.

If Suharto ignored the summons, which would offer him the chance to settle out of court, the civil suit would be filed by the end of the month, he said.

Saleh has said the lawsuit would concern the alleged mismanagement of one of seven charitable foundations set up and chaired by the former leader.

The foundation was named as Supersemar, founded in 1974 to collect donations from the business sector and others to provide scholarships for students.

Almost 800,000 scholarships have been awarded by the foundation, but as a private foundation its fund management has never been made public. Saleh gave no figure concerning the amount of money involved in the case.

Due to ill health, Suharto has never taken the stand for corruption charges levelled against him in 2000.

These accuse him of misusing more than US$500 million from the charitable foundations – separate to the billions in state assets he is also alleged by critics to have siphoned off.

Last May, prosecutors dropped a corruption case against Suharto after an appeal court overruled a lower court’s order to reopen the proceedings.

Suharto stepped down amid mounting unrest in 1998, and since then has lived at his family residence in the Jakarta suburb of Menteng.

He has been in and out of hospital for various health problems in recent years, including at least three operations and nearly a month of treatment for stomach problems last year.

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