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Trial of Indonesian Parliament Speaker to Continue - 2002-04-08

An Indonesian court has ruled that a high-profile corruption case will continue. Speaker of parliament Akbar Tandjung is on trial for allegedly taking four million dollars in government funds, in a case that is seen as a key test for Indonesia's legal system.

The panel of judges hearing the case says the indictments against Akbar Tandjung have met the legal requirements.

Presiding Judge Amiruddin Zakar says "the case against Akbar Tandjung should be continued."

The decision comes after Mr. Tandjung's defense lawyers asked that the case against the speaker of Parliament be thrown out of court on the grounds that the indictments were unclear. They also maintain that their client has done nothing wrong.

Judges also ruled on Monday that former president BJ Habibie and two cabinet ministers must testify at the trial next week.

Mr. Tandjung stands accused of taking four million dollars from a government agency and using it to finance his party's 1999 election campaign. Mr. Tandjung headed the Golkar political party at the time when Mr. Habibie ran for president in 1999.

Founded by former president Suharto, Golkar was Indonesia's ruling party for the more than three decades of his rule.

Mr. Tandjung is the most senior politician to be brought to trial on charges of graft since President Megawati Sukarnoputri promised to take steps to eradicate corruption. The trial is seen as a test of the Indonesian government's ability to prosecute influential and wealthy individuals.

The court granted a small concession to Mr. Tandjung last Friday, ruling he may be released from detention at the Attorney General's office.