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Ailing ex-president sees light of redemption JAKARTA - Ailing ex-president of Indonesia Soeharto sees the possibility of being redeemed from corruption and atrocity charges, as incumbent President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono here on Wednesday planned to confer with top lawmakers over whether to drop such charges against him because of his deteriorating health.

Soeharto, 84, was hospitalized over the past week for an operation to halt intestinal bleeding, prompting several leading officials to call for a pardon. It was the fourth time he was treated for the same ailment since May 2004. "The president will hold consultative meetings with the house speaker (on Wednesday evening) ... to discuss annulling charges against Soeharto," said State Secretary Yusril Ihza Mahendra.

Earlier on Monday, when seeing him at hospital, Vice President Yusuf Kalla said that all the charges could be quit for Soeharto served as president for 32 years and made a lot of contributions to the country. Later here on Tuesday, Attorney General Rahman Saleh vowed to make a final decision soon to determine whether Soeharto was medically fit to stand trial for graft offenses.

"In order to resolve this, we have requested a team of doctors to carry out a final medical examination, so this case would not be left floating. This is for the good of all, for the nation, state, and the former president himself," he said. However, Abdul Rahman said he would never declare a halt to investigations into Soeharto for corruption charges.

Meanwhile, the leadership of the People's Consultative Assembly(MPR) here on Wednesday held a closed-door meeting to find a solution over whether or not he should be pardoned. MPR Deputy Chairman AM Fatwa told the press before the meeting that they would try to find a way out from the polemic regarding Soeharto's legal case, whether it should be closed and whether the former president should be pardoned. The outcome of the MPR discussion has been declared yet.

Additionally, Indonesian National Defense Forces (TNI) spokesman Rear Admiral M Sunarto said here on Wednesday the TNI would support any political decision to be made by the government regarding the legal status of former president Soeharto. "The TNI's politics is the state's politics. Therefore, it will respect and support any decision to be made the state," he said during a visit to ANTARA News Agency. He said the TNI would not meddle in the legal process of Soeharto's case.

In another development, a number of non-governmental organizations (NGOs) have suggested that Soeharto be tried in absentia so as to end the polemics about whether he should still be put on trial following a recent deterioration in his health. The NGOs which included the Indonesian Legal Aid Foundation (YLBHI), the National Commission for Missing Persons and Victims of Violence (Kontras), Indonesian Corruption Wath (ICW) and other prodemocracy activists, made the suggestion at a joint press conference here on Wednesday.

They said that closing Soeharto's case would be a politically fatal mistake and could create new problems. Proceedings against Soeharto have been stalled since 2000 due to his frail health. Prosecutors charged him with embezzling 600 million US dollars two years after he resigned amid mass protests and riots opposing his presidency.

Critics say Soeharto, who ruled for 32 years until his ouster in 1998, also should be charged for 500,000 political killings during his regime, mostly communists and left-wing opponents. Soeharto still has many powerful allies in Indonesia's political and military elite, and Yudhoyono is seen as unlikely to expend any political capital in pursuing Soeharto's case.

Soeharto, meanwhile, was recovering from an operation Sunday night which removed a 40-centimeter section of intestine. The decision to carry out surgery despite his old age was taken after a colonoscopy earlier Sunday located several bleeding spots.

Related blog entries (category 'General') Related blog entries (category 'General'):
07 May 2006 · Ex-president undergoes surgery
06 May 2006 · Doctors: Suharto’s organs have partly failed
05 May 2006 · Former President Suharto rushed to hospital

Posted in General @ 11 May 2006 07:11 CET by Jeroen · 'Blog' RSS feed · permalink

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