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Ex-Dictator Suharto Falls Ill

December 16, 2001

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) _ Indonesia’s former dictator Suharto has fallen ill and is receiving oxygen to assist his breathing, his lawyer said Sunday.

Juan Felix Tampubolon said the 80-year-old former leader was resting at home but was too sick to join his relatives in a religious ceremony to mark Eid al-Fitr, the end of the Islamic holy month.

Tampubolon said it was not clear what Suharto’s illness was but he was being closely monitored by his doctor and would be taken to a hospital if his condition deteriorated.

``He is very weak,″ Tampubolon said. ``But he is still conscious. He is just asleep.″

In June, Suharto was rushed to a hospital after collapsing at home with low blood pressure and an irregular heartbeat. Doctors implanted a pacemaker in his chest.

Suharto, who uses only one name, ruled Indonesia with an iron fist for 32 years before he was forced from office in 1998 amid riots and pro-democracy protests.

Since his ouster he has suffered at least three strokes. Last year, a court abandoned a corruption trial against Suharto after several physicians claimed that he had suffered brain damage as a result of the strokes.

Suharto has rarely been seen in public in the last year. His children _ who themselves have been the target of corruption investigations _ reportedly prevent him from reading newspapers and watching television news as they believe it would upset him.

A radio station said Suharto fell ill after he was told his youngest son, Tommy, had been arrested for allegedly ordering the murder of a top judge and masterminding a bombing campaign. Tampubolon denied there was any connection.

Update hourly