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Suharto’s Son Will Seek Pardon

October 3, 2000

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) _ The youngest son of ex-dictator Suharto admitted Tuesday that he was guilty of corruption and appealed for a presidential pardon to avoid an 18-month prison sentence, his lawyers said.

Hutomo ``Tommy″ Mandala Putra, 37, a multimillionaire with a playboy image and love of fast cars, is the first member of Suharto’s family to be convicted of graft.

Prosecutors had threatened to arrest Tommy on Tuesday after he failed to comply with a summons to meet with them on Monday, claiming a mix-up in paperwork.

But he met with officials in the South Jakarta Prosecution Office on Tuesday for one hour, then returned to his central Jakarta home.

``He has agreed he is guilty and has asked for clemency,″ defense attorney Bob Nasution said.

His lawyers said he had asked to be allowed to stay out of prison until President Abdurrahman Wahid rules on his clemency request.

Yusuf Maulana, a court official, said a decision on whether Tommy would remain at large would be made later Tuesday.

Tommy was sentenced to prison on Sept. 22 by the Supreme Court, which overturned an earlier acquittal by a lower court.

The court found him guilty of illegally enriching himself through a property deal with the state’s main food supply agency.

Prosecutors said the 1997 land transaction, made when his autocratic father was still in power, had cost the Indonesian state $10.8 million.

Wearing a traditionally ornate batik shirt, Tommy smiled when he was mobbed by news crews at the prosecutors’ office.

``Just wait and see,″ he said when reporters asked if he would give back the money in return for a pardon.

Under complicated Indonesian legal procedure, the Supreme Court’s sentence did not take immediate effect when it was handed down.

Wahid is currently on an official visit to Canada and has not commented on Tommy’s corruption case. He is scheduled to return to Indonesia on Wednesday.

However, it is doubtful that he will be sympathetic. Last month Wahid linked Tommy to a series of bombings in Jakarta and fired the national police chief after officers failed to arrest him because of lack of evidence.

Legal wrangling over Tommy’s case comes just days after another court dismissed separate corruption charges against 79-year-old ex-President Suharto on grounds of ill health, enraging pro-democracy activists and triggering violent demonstrations.

President Wahid attacked the court-appointed team of doctors that last week found Suharto too sick to stand trial, saying the physicians had played ``political games,″ state Antara news agency quoted him Tuesday as saying from Canada.

He was reported saying that he had consulted with two of his personal physicians, who were traveling with him, and both believed Suharto to be fit enough for trial.

Critics accuse Indonesia’s legal system of going soft on the Suharto clan.

Ex-President Suharto ruled Indonesia for 32 years until student protests and riots forced him from office in 1998.