Civil Suit to Be Launched against Suharto

JAKARTA ~ More than 25 witnesses are set to testify in a civil suit against ailing former president Suharto to be lodged next week, an official from the Attorney General’s Office said on Thursday.

Suharto, 85, has so far escaped a criminal trial over allegations he amassed billions of dollars in state assets during the three decades he ruled Indonesia with an iron fist.

State attorney Dahmer Munthe told reporters that his office was seeking damages from Suharto and the Supersemar Foundation of Rp11.5 trillion (Rp1.3 billion) and an undisclosed additional amount in dollars.

“We will lodge the suit on July 9 or 10 next week,” he said, adding that 25 witnesses would be testifying.

Munthe said the dossier against the former strongman was “in the final stages. We are reviewing it for typos, but it is very firm.”

A corruption case against Suharto began in 2000, accusing him of misusing millions of dollars from charitable foundations – separate to the billions in state assets he is accused of siphoning off.

But the charges were dropped after he was declared too ill to stand trial.

Munthe said that the attorney general plans to bring similar charges against six of Suharto’s other foundations in separate trials, with more than 75 other witnesses ready to give evidence.

The failure to bring Suharto to justice remains a black mark on the term of President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, who swept to victory promising to wipe out corruption in Indonesia, regularly rated as among the world’s most graft-prone.

Yudhoyono appointed a new attorney general in a cabinet reshuffle in May aimed partly at stepping up the government’s fight against corruption, which has netted scores of officials but few linked to Suharto’s family.

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