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 17 Apr 2009

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Indonesia court drops decade-old libel suit against Time

Indonesia's top court cleared Time Magazine of charges it had defamed former dictator Suharto in a cover story, saying Thursday the publication would not have to pay $106 million to his estate, reported the Associated Press.

Time - which accused Suharto's family of amassing billions of dollars during his 32-year rule and stashing much of it overseas - has faced several legal challenges since the story ran in its Asian edition in May 1999.

The Supreme Court on Thursday overturned its own August 2007 ruling, which had demanded the magazine pay damages.

Judge Hatta Ali said the article in question "did not violate the law" or breach ethical standards.

He said Time owed no money to the Suharto family - a decision hailed by the magazine as a victory for press freedom.

"We have been struggling to find justice for a decade now," said Todung Mulya Lubis, the magazine's lawyer. "It has been a long road."

Suharto, who like many Indonesians used only one name, seized power in a 1965 coup that left up to half a million people dead. He ruled the country for the next three decades, killing or imprisoning hundreds of thousands of political opponents. He died last year at the age of 87. Time is published by Time Inc.






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