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Indonesian Court Acquits Suharto but Finds his Charity Foundation Guilty of Graft

An Indonesian court has acquitted the late dictator Suharto in a civil case but found his charity foundation guilty of graft and ordered it to repay the government more than $100 million in state funds. VOA's Nancy-Amelia Collins in Jakarta has more.

Judge Wahyono ruled Thursday Suharto's Supersemar Foundation had stolen $110 million from the state, but said the former president and his children were not legally liable because the decisions were made by the foundation's board and not Suharto.

The Indonesian government had sought more than $1 billion in damages in the civil case, alleging Suharto pocketed millions of dollars of state money intended for student scholarships from the foundation.

One of the lawyers representing the late Suharto and his six children, Muhammad Assegaf, says he is partially satisfied with the verdict.

"On behalf of Suharto, we are satisfied his name has been cleared, but not on the behalf of the foundation," he said.

He says the team of lawyers will file an appeal on behalf of Supersemar Foundation.

"The foundation has instructed the team of lawyers to reject the court decision by submitting an appeal, because they consider they have the full authority to manage the funds no matter where they came from," Assegaf said. "This has nothing to do with state money."

Suharto ruled Indonesia with an iron fist for three decades, but was ousted in 1998 after massive student-led protests over worsening economic and social chaos forced him to resign.

In 2000, prosecutors charged the former president with embezzling $600 million but he was never tried in court because his lawyers argued Suharto was too ill to stand trial.

Suharto, who died in January at the age of 86, accumulated extensive business interests during his 32 years in power, ranging from airlines and television stations to hotels and toll roads.

Transparency International ranked Suharto with an estimated worth of $15 to $30 billion.