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Suhar to to defy third summons for questioning

JAKARTA, APRIL 1: Attorneys for former Indonesian President Suharto say he will ignore a third summons for questioning about corruption du...

April 2, 2000

JAKARTA, APRIL 1: Attorneys for former Indonesian President Suharto say he will ignore a third summons for questioning about corruption during his 32-year rule, but have invited state prosecutors to his home to conduct interviews, according to reports on Saturday.

Suharto was ordered to appear at the Attorney-General’s office for questioning on Monday after failing to show up twice last month. But the former strongman’s attorneys sent a letter to Attorney-General Marzuki Darusman on Friday insisting once again that Suharto was medically unfit to appear, according to the Kompas and Media Indonesia newspapers.

However, they again invited prosecutors to visit Suharto at his posh Jakarta residence, saying they did not want to obstruct the investigation into the former president. "Suharto cannot fulfil the summons by the Attorney-General’s office to appear for questioning on April 3,” said the letter, submitted by lead Defence Attorney Juan Felix Tampubolon. "As attorneys, we are obliged to protect our client.”

Suharto was hospitalized twice last year, once for a stroke that left his speech slurred, and a second time for a bleeding ulcer. However, a state-appointed medical team examined the former President twice and concluded he was mentally and physically fit to undergo interrogation.

Suharto and his family are alleged to have siphoned off or mis-used billions of dollars of public funds during his rule to enrich themselves and their cronies.

Allegations of impropriety center around the use of hundreds of millions of dollars from several charitable foundations that Suharto controlled during his presidency. Few people outside Suharto’s inner circle believe he is ill — he has been seen walking and talking at various social functions, including the wedding of his granddaughter last week.

The Attorney-General’s office is now weighing its options, which include questioning Suharto at his house, arresting him or issuing a court order compelling him to undergo interrogation.

One noted Indonesian legal activist, Maruli Simorangkir, strongly criticized the former leader’s attorneys and said they could be charged for obstructing the investigation. Simorangkir, former head of the Indonesian Bar Association, told Kompas that because Suharto was able to make social appearances, "He should have no problem appearing at the Attorney General’s office.”

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