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Indonesia's top prosecutor moves to seize Suharto assets

26 April 2000

JAKARTA, April 26 (AFP) - Indonesian investigators are assessing assets linked to former president Suharto, who is under investigation for alleged corruption, and will seize his assets, Attorney General Marzuki Darusman said Wednesday.

"The assets which can be immediately seized will be seized," Darusman told jornalists after a cabinet meeting.

Darusman said investigators were now assessing Suharto's wealth to establish whether the assets belonged to Suharto as an individual or to charitable foundations he once controlled.

The priority would be to seize assets in the form of land and buildings, he said.

The attorney general said New Zealand Foreign Minister Phil Goff had told him during the latter's visit to Jakarta early this week of his government's willingness to help locate assets linked to Suharto.

One of Suharto's six children, Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra, once owned a multi-million dollar alpine lodge in New Zealand's South Island. He sold the property to a Singaporean last year for one dollar (50 US cents).

Indonesia's embassy in Switzerland has also asked the Swiss government to help trace possible Suharto assets.

The South Jakarta district court on Tuesday endorsed a request by the attorney general's office for the seizure of Suharto's assets, including those belonging to his charitable foundations.

The attorney general late last year reopened the graft investigations on Suharto which were halted under the government of former president B.J. Habibie for lack of evidence.

Suharto, now 78, is being investigated for alleged graft and abuse of power during his 32-year rule which ended when he stepped down amid mass protests in

The probe has so far focused on Suharto's seven tax-free charitable foundations.

Management of the foundations, worth some four trillion rupiah (526 million US dollars), was handed over in November 1998 to the Habibie government.

Suharto has been questioned once on the graft charges at his home on April 3 but the questioning was halted on the advice of a team of doctors present. A second questioning session later in April was also cancelled on medical grounds.

Lawyers for Suharto have cited his ill health and his inability to communicate properly as reasons for not answering three summons sent since February for him to appear for questioning at the attorney general's office.

Suharto, who says he is not guilty, has sued the US magazine Time which last year said the Suharto family was sitting on wealth of some 15 billion dollars, much of it in banks or as assets overseas.

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