Tommy Suharto Trial Postponed

JAKARTA ~ A court has postponed for two weeks the opening hearing in a civil lawsuit against the youngest son of ex-president Suharto attempting to recover state money lost in a land scam.

Judge Haswardi, heading the panel of judges hearing the case seeking to recover millions of dollars in state funds, postponed the hearing this week after lawyers for one of the co-defendants could not be present.

Hutomo Mandala Putra Suharto, known as Tommy, was president of Goro Batara Sakti (GBS), which swapped land with the national logistics agency Bulog in the 1990s. Another GBS executive, Ricardo Gelael, is also being sued, along with the former chairman of Bulog.

Fast-living businessman Tommy was sentenced to 18 months in jail and fined Rp30 billion (US$3 million) in 2000 in connection with the swap, in which GBS acquired prime Bulog-owned land to build a Goro superstore.

In return, GBS supplied Bulog with a worthless swamp in North Jakarta.

The conviction was the first given to a member of Suharto’s family for corruption.

Tommy, however, went on the run in November 2000 after he tried and failed to win a presidential pardon, sparking a police hunt that included them drilling into a bunker under ex-president Suharto’s residence.

The court decision was later overturned, but Tommy was captured and jailed for ordering the murder of the judge who had convicted him.

Suharto’s youngest and reputedly favorite son was freed last year after serving a third of his 15-year term.

Tommy and his five siblings came to control some of Indonesia’s largest conglomerates during Suharto’s 32-year rule.

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