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Ex-Indonesian President Questioned

May 15, 2000

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) _ After doctors said he was healthy enough to be interrogated, prosecutors questioned former President Suharto at his home today about alleged corruption during his 32 years in power, lawyers said.

On Friday, hundreds of students clashed with police in a protest near Suharto’s house, demanding that he be put on trial for corruption. Attorney General Marzuki Darusman said Saturday that investigators would resume questioning him twice a week, on Mondays and Thursdays.

As reporters gathered today outside Suharto’s home in central Jakarta, his lawyer, Juan Felix Tampubolon, said Suharto wouldn’t be able to meet with them.

``He’s not fit. He’s not able to be questioned,″ Tampubolon said. ``He’s ready, no problem. But he’s just not capable of doing it.″

A team of prosecutors, several doctors and an ambulance later arrived and entered Suharto’s mansion in a plush area of downtown Jakarta. The doctors examined Suharto for several hours and left the home after clearing him for questioning, said Suharto lawyer Mohammed Assegaf.

On previous occasions, doctors have cut short questioning of the former leader at his home, saying he was too ill.

Suharto, 79, has been named as a top suspect in a scandal involving the misuse of millions of dollars from charitable foundations he once controlled. He was forced from power by a violent pro-democracy movement in May 1998, leaving a legacy of endemic corruption and nepotism.

Prosecutors have briefly grilled the former strongman only twice. Suharto’s lawyers and doctors have repeatedly claimed he is too ill to testify, saying he suffers from high blood pressure and a poor memory.

State attorneys have already questioned two of his six children as well as some former senior officials. Suharto, who has been barred from leaving Jakarta, has denied any wrongdoing.

A Jakarta court has ruled that prosecutors can freeze property owned by Suharto and the foundations, which operated for decades without any financial controls.

Indonesia’s new government has instructed its embassies abroad to catalogue all overseas assets held by the former ruler.

President Abdurrahman Wahid has promised to pardon Suharto if he returns any illegally acquired gains.

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