Tommy Suharto Corruption Case to Be Heard

JAKARTA ~ Prosecutors said this week they had failed to reach an out-of-court settlement with Tommy Suharto, son of the country’s ex-president, who is facing a civil law suit over a land scam.

The failure means a court will instead hear the case from next week.

Lawyers of Hutomo Mandala Putra Suharto, popularly known as Tommy, rejected the terms offered by prosecutors to settle the law suit aimed at recovering funds linked to a land-swap deal in the 1990s, the prosecutors said.

Tommy was president of Goro Batara Sakti (GBS), a now defunct supermarket business, which gave the national logistics agency Bulog a worthless swamp in North Jakarta in return for prime land to build a superstore.

“Practically all of our terms were rejected by the defense team, including the amount of money and scenarios under which the money from Paribas Bank could be returned,” prosecutor Dachamer Munthe told reporters.

He was referring to funds allegedly belonging to Tommy that were frozen in the Guernsey branch of the bank, which both sides want repatriated.

Tommy’s lawyer Elsa Syarief said the terms were rejected as “there is no obligation for Tommy to pay… From 1986 he was no longer an executive of GBS.”

The transaction cost the state Rp95.4 billion (about US$600,000 at the time). Another GBS executive is also being sued, along with the former chairman of Bulog.

In 2000 Tommy was sentenced to 18 months’ jail and fined Rp30 billion in connection with the transaction, making him the first Suharto to be convicted of corruption. However, he went on the run after he tried and failed to win a presidential pardon. The conviction was later overturned.

“He has been acquitted by the Supreme Court… Tommy is innocent, why should he pay?” said Syarief.

Tommy was eventually jailed for ordering the slaying of a Supreme Court judge who had convicted him in the land swap case. He was freed last year after serving a third of his 15-year sentence for the killing.

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