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Indonesia’s Ex-President in Court

December 12, 2001

JAKARTA, Indonesia (AP) _ Former President B.J. Habibie denied any wrongdoing after questioning by Indonesian prosecutors over a corruption case that could destroy the party that ruled this Southeast Asian nation for 33 years, news reports said Wednesday.

In comments broadcast on SCTV Television News, Habibie told reporters in Hamburg on Tuesday that he had not been aware of the misuse of $5.3 million from the state food distribution agency, Bulog, while he was president in 1999.

He said his Cabinet secretary, Akbar Tandjung _ who now heads the Golkar Party and is also parliamentary speaker _ was responsible for distributing the funds, which were intended for relief work.

Tandjung has been accused of diverting the funds to pay for Golkar’s 1999 election campaign. Golkar, once the political machine of former dictator Suharto, is Indonesia’s second-largest party and is a member of President Megawati Sukarnoputri’s ruling coalition.

Tandjung has denied the fraud allegations and claimed he passed the money to a humanitarian foundation. An investigation by state prosecutors found that the money did not reach its intended recipients.

On Monday, parliament moved a step closer to setting up a special commission to investigate the corruption allegations.

Analysts say that if Tandjung is found guilty, he could be expelled from parliament and the party disbanded for breaking election laws.

Since being voted out of office in 1999, Habibie has spent much of his time in Germany, where his wife is receiving medical treatment.

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