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March 28, 2008

INDONESIA/POLITICS
Suharto acquitted, charity found guilty

SuhartoAn Indonesian court on Thursday acquitted the late former president Suharto in a civil corruption case, but ordered his charitable foundation to repay more than $100 million in state funds, according to reports from Antara and AFP.

The judges said that both Suharto and his Supersemar Foundation had engaged in "actions that ran against the law," but acquitted the former leader saying he did so in his capacity as an executive of the charity.

Indonesia's government had sought $1.4 billion in damages in the case, alleging that Suharto skimmed off millions of dollars of state money intended for student scholarships from the foundation.

But the judges concluded that Suharto, represented in the case by his six children, had not been proven guilty of direct involvement.

"The first defendant (Suharto) is acquitted, but the Supersemar foundation, the second defendant, has to pay some of the damages (requested by the government)," said judge Wahyono, who like many Indonesians goes by one name.


"The second defendant (Supersemar) has engaged in actions that went against the law and therefore should pay."

Suharto died without facing criminal prosecution over allegations that he oversaw massive corruption during his more than three-decade rule that benefited his family and cronies. A criminal trial against him was abandoned on health grounds.

The court ordered the foundation to pay the government $105.7 million and another five million dollars' worth of money in the Indonesian currency of rupiah.


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