Thu, May 11, 2006 - Page 5 News List

Jakarta considers dropping charges against sick Suharto

AP , JAKARTA

Indonesia's president planned to confer yesterday with top lawmakers over whether to drop corruption charges against former ruler Suharto because of his deteriorating health, a government official said.

Suharto, 84, was hospitalized over the past week for an operation to halt intestinal bleeding, prompting several leading officials to call for a pardon. It was the fourth time he was treated for the same ailment since May 2004.

President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono planned to hold talks yesterday evening on the issue with a wide range of legal and political leaders, State Secretary Yusril Ihza Mahendra said.

"The president will hold consultative meetings with the house speaker ... to discuss annulling charges against Suharto," he said.

Proceedings against Suharto have been stalled since 2000 due to his frail health.

Prosecutors charged him with embezzling US$600 million two years after he resigned amid mass protests and riots opposing his presidency.

Critics say Suharto should be charged for 500,000 political killings during his regime.

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