Indonesian president orders arrest of Suharto's son

Click to follow
The Independent Online

Indonesia's president ordered the arrest of ex-dictator Suharto's youngest son today, two days after a deadly stock exchange explosion many speculate was carried out by supporters of the disgraced former leader.

Indonesia's president ordered the arrest of ex-dictator Suharto's youngest son today, two days after a deadly stock exchange explosion many speculate was carried out by supporters of the disgraced former leader.

"I have ordered the Jakarta police chief to arrest Tommy Suharto," President Abdurrahman Wahid said after attending midday prayers at a north Jakarta mosque.

Tommy is one of Indonesia's richest men. His formal name is Hutomo Mandala Putra.

Fifteen people, mostly chauffeurs, were killed and dozens were injured Wednesday when a car bomb exploded at the Jakarta Stock Exchange and set off a massive fire in an underground garage at the bourse.

It was the latest and deadliest in a series of bombings to hit Jakarta and other Indonesian cities in recent months.

Wahid and several government ministers have accused opponents of their democratic reforms of using violence to destabilize the year-old administration.

Wahid also demanded the arrest of another suspect, Habib Alwi al Baaqil, a Muslim cleric and chairman of the Islamic Defense Front, a pro-Suharto group.

Jakarta's police spokesman Lt. Col. Nur Usman said the arrests would be made Friday or Saturday.

Tommy's lawyer Juan Felix Tampubolon declined to comment. Tampubolon is also Suharto's chief attorney and has denied that Suharto is in any way linked to the blasts.

Wahid admitted that authorities did not have full evidence against Tommy or Baaqil.

"But we have reasons to arrest them to prevent another bombing like the one that happened at the Jakarta Stock Exchange," he said, adding that the victims of Wednesday's blast had been poor working people.

He said the decision to make the arrest was made at a Cabinet meeting on Thursday.

Earlier Friday Wahid cited intelligence reports that warned of more bomb attacks

"According a telephone tap, there are several other places that will be bombed and I have told the authorities to take strict action and security checks to prevent this from happening again," he said.

"We cannot tolerate this any more. Strict action must be taken against anyone who has been involved in this action."

Wahid made those comments after visiting a Jakarta hospital where Philippine Ambassador Leonides Caday is recovering from injuries sustained in another Jakarta car bomb attack Aug. 1, in which two people died.

There has been growing speculation that Suharto supporters as well as hardline elements in the military are responsible for the unsolved bombings.

Three of the blasts have coincided with major developments in a corruption investigation and court case against Suharto, who is accused of stealing at least dlrs 583 million in government funds.

Suharto has failed to attend his corruption trial. On Thursday his lawyers repeated that he is too sick to attend. But a judge has ordered him to appear at the next hearing on Sept. 28.

Tommy, 38, is the youngest of Suharto's six children, who became super rich during their father's 32-year dictatorship, which ended in 1998 amid riots and political chaos.

Tommy has long been implicated in shady commercial dealings, including a failed national car project that cost the Indonesian state billions of dollars in tax exemptions before it collapsed soon after Suharto quit.

In October 1999, Tommy was acquitted of graft charges in connection with a 1997 land scam.

On July 4, a bomb damaged the attorney general's office soon after prosecutors grilled Tommy about his father's business interests.

In March, a rifle bullet was fired through a window of Indonesia's parliament as lawmakers questioned Tommy in connection with allegations that he embezzled dlrs 400 million from clove farmers.

While in power, Suharto granted Tommy a multimillion dollar monopoly on clove sales in Indonesia where the spice is used to flavor most cigarettes.

Comments