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Tommy Suharto, Son of Indonesian Dictator, Released from Prison Early

Tommy Suharto, the youngest son of the former Indonesian president Suharto, gained an early release from prison after serving a third of a 15-year jail term for ordering the murder of a judge.

Hutomo "Tommy" Mandala Putra, son of the Indonesian dictator Suharto, was released from prison Monday where he had been serving time for ordering the murder of a Supreme Court judge, fleeing justice, and possession of illegal weapons.

The now 44-year-old Suharto was originally sentenced to 15 years in prison for paying two hit men to murder Supreme Court judge Syafiuddin Kartasasmita, who had convicted him on corruption and weapons offenses.

The two gunmen were given life sentences and remain in prison.

Tommy Suharto's sentence was later reduced to 10 years on appeal. Further lengthy cuts were made for good behavior, leading to his release now on one year's probation.

Under Indonesian law, prisoners who show good conduct and have served two-thirds of their sentence after remissions are taken into account, become eligible for parole.

Human rights groups and many Indonesians have complained bitterly of the special treatment given to Tommy while he was in prison, and for his light sentence.

Leading human rights activist and member of the Indonesian human rights group PBHI, Hendardi, says Tommy's release is unjust, and shows how the elite in Indonesia live under different laws to ordinary people.

He says Tommy's release shows that rich and influential people like Tommy Suharto get special treatment and light prison sentences for their crimes. By contrast, those known as the "little people" get harsh sentences even for small offenses such as stealing a chicken.

One of Tommy Suharto's lawyers, Muhammad Assagaf, says his client was treated like everybody else and has earned his early prison release.

He says Tommy Suharto contributed to the welfare of his fellow inmates while in prison by conducting business training and donating his blood.

His father, Suharto, was the authoritarian ruler of Indonesia for 32 years until his ouster in 1998.

And while Suharto was indicted in 2000 on charges of embezzling $600 million in state funds, he was never brought to trial. Legal proceedings against him have been abandoned due to his alleged poor health.