Vice President: Soeharto Cannot be Put on Trial

Friday, 11 January, 2008 | 13:14 WIB

TEMPO Interactive, Jakarta: Vice President Jusuf Kalla held a collective prayer for former President Soeharto, in his official residence in Jalan Diponegoro, Central Jakarta, two days ago (9/1). In addition to praying, Kalla said the New Order ruler cannot be put on trial.

Soeharto is being treated in Pertamina Central Hospital, South Jakarta. The doctor's team planned to installed a heart pacemaker, but still waited for Suharto's health to become better.

For the last 10 years, Soeharto's criminal case, where he is accused of embezzling the state's money through the foundation he led, has been dangling. Last year the state also filed a civil claim of Rp11.5 trillion against Soeharto and up to now the case is still in the process at the Central Jakarta District Court.

The case against Soeharto's , according to Attorney General Hendarman Supandji, has been closed since the Investigation Termination Decision Letter was issued in 2001. The reason for this is the suspect had a permanent brain illness.

After the prayers, Kalla, concurrently Golkar Party General Chairman, emphasized this. "An ill man cannot be scrutinized. If forced, it instead breaks the law," said Kalla.

The court actually has never tried any ill person. During the examination process, the judge also questioned the defendant's health. "That is the weakness of the law in this country," Rudi Satrio, a legal expert of the University of Indonesia told Tempo yesterday (10/1).

Rudi said there must be a legal breakthrough in solving Soeharto's case. One of the efforts that can be taken, he said, is expanding the definition of in absentia trial. "It must be defined as not only for those who are absent, but also for the people with a permanent illness," said Rudi.

Widening the in absentia definition was also conveyed by Gadjah Mada University legal expert, Denny Indrayana. "It's clear that Pak Harto also wants this problem be settled," he said. He said, "I'm sure Pak Harto doesn't need any clemency. He also wants a legal decision."

In terms of the letter stopping the investigation, according to Denny, it is not an obstruction to the trial process. "It's the government's policy through the court. So if he is going to be tried, just revoke the decision letter," he said.



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