Suharto's fugitive son held

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The Independent Online

Police in Indonesia arrested former dictator Suharto's fugitive son today for allegedly ordering the murder of a judge who had convicted him for corruption.

He went into hiding a year ago as Indonesia's most wanted man.

Smiling and waving to reporters, Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra, 39, was escorted by dozens of police officers into the Jakarta police headquarters at dusk. Tommy, who was not handcuffed, told reporters he was ready to face prosecution.

Witnesses said one senior police officer hugged Tommy as he walked into the police station.

Responding to a shouted question about the charges against him, Tommy answered: "At the right time I will clarify."

The National Police Chief, General Suroyo Bimantoro, said a 15-member team raided a house belonging to an acquaintance of Tommy in a luxury housing estate in southern Jakarta.

Tommy was asleep when officers forced their way into the house, he said. Several of Tommy's bodyguards there did not try to prevent the arrest. Two others staying in the house were also arrested.

One of Tommy's lawyers, Elza Sharif, denied that the fugitive had been captured by the police. Tommy chose to surrender to authorities, he said.

Wednesday's capture is the latest twist in a saga that has tested the ability of Indonesia to enforce law and order after three decades of corruption under former President Suharto.

Jakarta police spokesman Col. Anton Bachrul Alam said Tommy had been arrested for allegedly ordering the killing of Supreme Court Justice Syafiuddin Kartasasmita last July as well as for the illegal possession of firearms and explosives. He said Tommy could be detained for up to 20 days for questioning.

Kartasasmita was assassinated by two gunmen on motorbikes who were later arrested and claimed Tommy had paid them to kill the judge.

Last November, Kartasasmita sentenced Tommy to 18 months in prison for corruption in a multimillion-dollar land scam.

Proclaiming his innocence, Tommy disappeared and eluded what authorities maintained had been a intensive manhunt.

Police and the government have also linked Tommy to a series of bomb attacks, including one at the Jakarta Stock Exchange last year in which more than a dozen people were killed.

Until the recent Supreme Court decision, Tommy had been the only member of the Suharto family convicted of corruption.

His father, Suharto, 81, was also charged last year in a separate graft case, but has evaded prosecution by claiming to be too old and ill to face trial.

Tommy's arrest follows a pledge by President Megawati Sukarnoputri's four-month old administration to eradicate endemic graft and punish those found guilty of corruption.

In the past few weeks there have been unconfirmed reports that Megawati's emissaries have been negotiating with the Suharto family for Tommy's possible surrender.

It was said he was willing to give up if police guaranteed his safety in prison.

Megawati, who was dining with military commanders at the time of the arrest, did not comment. But the country's top security minister, Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono, promised that Tommy would be brought to trial.

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