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Jakarta to issue political decision on Suharto probe in August
24 April 2000
JAKARTA, April 24 (AFP) - The Indonesian government will make a decision in August on the case of former president Suharto, currently under a graft probe, Attorney General Marzuki Darusman said on Monday.
"In August, there will be a political decision on the Suharto case," Darusman was quoted by the Detikcom online news service as telling journalists on the sidelines of a private seminar here.
Darusman said that with the political side of the case settled by the expected statement, the legal process against the former president could then proceed as it should.
But without explaining what would constitute a "political decision," he added that the case against Suharto could not only be settled socio-politically, but that it had also to go through a legal process.
Darusman also said the government has no intention of halting the probe on Suharto.
"If the Suharto case is not settled, there will be popular cynicism ... therefore the case of Pak Harto (Suharto's popular appellation) will go on, and actions will even be taken against his relatives," Darusman said, again without elaborating.
The attorney general late last year reopened investigations, halted by his predecessor under the government of former president B.J. Habibie allegedly due to a lack of evidence.
Suharto, now 78, is being investigated for alleged graft and misuse of power during his 32-year rule which ended when he stepped down amid mass protests in 1998.
The probe has so far focused on Suharto's seven tax-free charitable foundations.
The management of the foundations, worth some four trillion rupiahmillion dollars), was handed over in November 1998 to the Habibie government.
Detikcom earlier Monday said that Darusman had not entirely removed a top prosecutor he suddenly replaced last week from the head of the Suharto probe.
"Now, he is still involved in the team investigating the wealth of Suharto and his family. He is the coordinator," Darusman said.
He was refering to the former head of the attorney general's corruption crimes department, Chairul Imam, who he suddenly removed as head of the Suharto probe team on Thursday, a post he had only held since December.
Darusman again stressed that Imam's replacement was purely for organizational purposes and had no political background.
"He was not taken off (the probe), it is only some sort of a change," Darusman said.
He said that as head of the team, Imam had handled every aspect of the questioning, the investigation, the preparation of the charges and the prosecution.
"Now the scope is being narrowed to only the preparation of the charges so that Chairul Imam would be able to take on other responsibilities," Darusman said.
Imam has said that he was only notified of his replacement in a telephone call by Marzuki on the eve of the actual handover ceremony, and that no reasons were given for the move.
A source close to Darusman told AFP Friday that Imam was replaced due to the slow pace of his work.
Darusman, when announcing the replacement, had said that Imam would be posted as a "functional deputy attorney general" while awaiting retirement.
Suharto has been questioned once on the graft charges at his home on April 3 but the questioning had to be abruptly halted on the advice of a team of doctors present.
A second session was cancelled after a medical examination by a joint team of doctors concluded that Suharto was not fit enough to face a grilling.
Officials from the attorney general's office have said that at least two or three question sessions will be needed.
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.
Suahrto, who has said he is innocent of any graft, has sued the US magazine Time which last year estimated the Suharto family's wealth at some 15 billion dollars.
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