Suharto's son is given 18 months for corruption

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The Independent Online

Tommy Suharto, playboy youngest son of the former Indonesian president, has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for corruption. The conviction is the first of any member of the Suharto family for wrongdoing during Mr Suharto's 32-year rule.

Tommy Suharto, playboy youngest son of the former Indonesian president, has been sentenced to 18 months in prison for corruption. The conviction is the first of any member of the Suharto family for wrongdoing during Mr Suharto's 32-year rule.

Hours after news of the conviction was published and on the eve of the resumption of Mr Suharto's own controversial corruption trial, an explosion rocked the offices of a human- rights campaign group in the Indonesian capital, Jakarta. It went off in front of the offices of Kontras, which investigates cases of kidnappings and violence by the security forces.

Witnesses said two bombs were thrown by men on a motorcycle. One failed to detonate. Police said the bombs were small and there was little damage. It was the latest in a number of attacks which observers believe are orchestrated by forces trying to thwart investigations into the Suhartos and the source of their wealth.

In finding Tommy Suharto, 38, guilty, Indonesia's supreme court overturned an acquittal by a lower court on charges relating to a 1990s land deal believed to have cost the state $10m.

Lawyers for Tommy Suharto said that they would appeal. An order for his arrest, issued this month by President Abdurrahman Wahid, has not been acted on by police, who said they have not enough evidence to detain him. Tommy Suharto surrendered himself to police for questioning but was released.

He is likely to remain free until at least the end of the appeals process, although prosecutors are demanding that he be jailed until the Supreme Court agrees to review its own decision.

The elder Suharto's trial is to resume today. Each previous stage has been marked by violence. Two weeks ago, as his trial on corruption charges was due to restart, a bomb exploded near the Jakarta stock exchange, killing 15 people. That prompted Mr Wahid's arrest order for Tommy Suharto, who has denied any involvement in the violence. Two dozen people have been arrested in connection with the explosion, including two soldiers, one from the feared special forces.

The former president is not expected to attend today: his lawyers say he is too ill to be put on trial.

Tommy Suharto, known for his love of racing cars and his questionable business deals, is among the more notorious of Mr Suharto's children. He established a network of businesses under the Humpuss Group of companies and in the 1990s set up a monopoly to take control of the huge domestic trade in cloves. He arrived at a news conference in a Rolls-Royce at the height of Indonesia's economic crisis in early 1998, to claim that Mr Suharto's dictatorship had been good for the country.

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