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Leader: Suharto Should Face Trial

October 7, 2000

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) _ Indonesia’s reformist president hardened his stand against former President Suharto and his family on Friday, insisting he face a new trial and his youngest son go to prison for corruption.

Meanwhile, fighting flared between security forces and independence activists in remote Iran Jaya province, leaving seven people dead and 38 injured, hospital officials and police said.

And on Sulawesi island, police in Makassar opened fire on protesters demonstrating against a fuel price increase, wounding at least seven people. Makassar is 780 miles northeast of Jakarta.

In another development, Defense Minister Muhammad Mahfud Mahmud said the army’s chief of staff, Gen. Tyasno Sudarto, would be replaced soon, but he rejected speculation of a major shake-up in the military.

After prayers at a mosque in Jakarta, President Abdurrahman Wahid spoke of his resolve that the Suharto and his family must obey law like all citizens of Indonesia.

Wahid’s government is appealing a decision by the South Jakarta District Court last month to dismiss corruption charges against Suharto, 79, after doctors found him to be too sick to stand trial. He was accused of stealing almost $600 million from the state.

``He must, by whatever means, be brought to court. If there is a reason that he cannot be brought to court because of doctors’ findings, the judge can find another way to try Suharto,″ Wahid said.

Wahid said that if the corruption case against Suharto failed, he could be tried for other offenses. ``Don’t worry, there are many other cases for which Suharto can be brought to court,″ he said.

Wahid again repeated his rejection of an appeal for clemency from Suharto’s youngest son, Hutomo ``Tommy″ Mandala Putra, who was convicted of corruption.

``I have clearly said I reject any appeal for clemency. He must be put in prison,″ Wahid said.

He said Tommy’s case can be reviewed by an appeal court, but until it does he should start an 18-month prison sentence.

Despite Wahid’s comments, Tommy, a multimillionaire with a playboy image, remained free Friday. Court officials have not said when he might be taken into custody.

In the father’s case, Wahid said he had asked the head the Supreme Court ``to find a judge who is clean, honest and brave and who is not afraid of anyone″ to handle Suharto’s case.

Wahid repeated an earlier pledge to pardon Suharto if he returned his ill-gotten wealth, but said such grace would not be extended to Suharto’s wealthy children.

Clashes broke out in Irian Jaya after police and soldiers lowered the separatist Free Papua Movement’s ``Morning Star″ flag in Wamena town, said a local military officer.

John Rumbiak, a spokesman for the Irian Jaya-based Institute for Human Rights Study and Advocacy, said thousands of people _ armed with bows, arrows and machetes _ streamed into the town from surrounding villages in support of the activists.

A priest at Wamena’s main Catholic church, Tarsisius Awe, said several houses had been set on fire as about 50 people, including small children, sought shelter from the violence in the church.

``People are running into the church,″ Awe said in a phone interview. ``It’s so dangerous out there. Everyone is afraid.″

Rebels maintain that the region, about 2,300 miles east of Jakarta, has been independent since 1961, when its Dutch rulers agreed to allow self-rule.

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