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Indonesia Moves Forward with Corruption Probes - 2002-01-07

In Indonesia, there have been developments in several top-level corruption investigations. The attorney general Monday named the parliamentary speaker a suspect in a graft case, while former President Abdurrahman Wahid failed to answer a police summons over bribe allegations.

Parliament Speaker Akbar Tandjung has been declared a suspect in a multi-million-dollar graft case. Attorney General MA Rachman says his office has secured the required presidential approval to question Mr. Tandjung, and he will be sent a summons. Mr. Tandjung, the head of the country's second largest political party, Golkar, has denied any wrongdoing.

He is suspected of illegally channeling funds from the state food agency to Golkar during elections in 1999. Mr. Tandjung has said he passed the money to an agency to buy food for the poor. However, the attorney general says state prosecutors had found no evidence that the money had ever reached its destination.

If Mr. Tandjung were to be prosecuted and found guilty, the Golkar party could be barred from participating in the 2004 presidential elections. Parliament will decide later this month whether or not to launch its own investigation into the graft scandal. Meanwhile, in a separate graft case, former President Abdurrahman Wahid failed to answer a police summons for questioning, citing a previous commitment. Mr. Wahid has denied any wrongdoing, and police said they will question him on another day.

Police want to ask Mr. Wahid about bribery allegations made against him by former President Suharto's son. Tommy Suharto has charged he gave nearly one-and-a-half-million dollars to Mr. Wahid's aids to have his name cleared in a corruption conviction in October, 2000. Tommy Suharto became a fugitive shortly after paying the alleged bribe. He was arrested by police several months ago. He is currently being investigated for the murder of the judge who sentenced him, for illegal weapons possession and involvement in a spate of bombings in Jakarta.