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Tommy Suharto Conviction Overturned


In a surprise move, Indonesia's Supreme Court has overturned the graft conviction and prison sentence of Tommy Suharto, the son of the country's former president. But it still is not clear whether Tommy Suharto will emerge from hiding, after eluding authorities for 11 months.

Indonesia's Supreme Court ruled Monday that Tommy Suharto should never have been convicted in the 1995 real estate scam that cost the government $11 million. The three justices, therefore, nullified Tommy Suharto's 18 month prison sentence.

The judges ruled that, while Tommy Suharto's company had been involved in the scam, Mr. Suharto had not been.

The youngest son of Indonesia's former President Suharto has been on the run from authorities since November. But Tommy Suharto is still wanted in connection with a series of bombings in the Indonesian capital, as well as the assassination in July of the judge who convicted him.

Monday's surprise Supreme Court decision came after Suharto lawyers requested a judicial review of his case in August.

The Tommy Suharto case has drawn widespread criticism for the Indonesian police from both domestic and international sources. Speculation is rife that elements of the police or military may have been sheltering Tommy Suharto for the last 11 months.

Tommy Suharto is the first member of the once-untouchable Suharto family to be convicted of corruption. His five siblings and their father, former President Suharto, are believed by many Indonesians to have used the former leader's power and influence to amass multi-million dollar fortunes during his 32 years in power.

Former President Suharto was forced to resign in 1998, partly because of corruption allegations. But a court ruled that the 79-year-old former leader was too sick to stand trial.

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