Protests as Suharto trial adjourned due to 'ill-health' of former dictator

Click to follow
The Independent Online

The corruption trial of the former Indonesian dictator, Mr Suharto, was adjourned for a fortnight yesterday after his lawyers claimed he might suffer a stroke if he was forced to appear in court.

The corruption trial of the former Indonesian dictator, Mr Suharto, was adjourned for a fortnight yesterday after his lawyers claimed he might suffer a stroke if he was forced to appear in court.

Hundreds of protesters at the court booed and chanted slogans after Mr Suharto's lawyers told the five judges that their client would not be appearing. On Wednesday, an empty bus exploded 300 yards from the courtroom - apparently after a grenade was thrown into it - although nobody was injured.

"This morning Suharto's medical team of 23 doctors checked the health of our client and concluded he was sick," Juan Felix Tampubolon, his chief lawyer, said shortly after the hearing began. "Because of that he could not face the court.''

Another of his lawyers, Mohammad Assegaf, read from a medical report. "He can only understand and express opinions on simple matters," it said. It also said that Mr Suharto, 79, suffers from high blood pressure, diabetes, heart and kidney problems and has had three minor strokes in the past year.

The chief judge, Lalu Mariyun, granted an adjournment until 14 September to allow independent doctors to examine Mr Suharto, who is under "city arrest" at his Jakarta home.

Mr Suharto has ignored several summonses to appear for questioning and the judges have been vague about their options if he continues refusing to turn up, raising suspicions that the hearing is political theatre by a government that wants to be seen to bring him to justice, without going through a trial that could prove embarrassing to people still in power.

The former president, who ruled for 32 years until 1998, is charged with stealing some $571m (£388m) of state money.

Comments