Indonesian judges began hearing a civil lawsuit yesterday against dictator Suharto aimed at recovering some of the millions of dollars he allegedly stole from the state during his 32-year rule.
The court was in session for just 20 minutes before judges ordered state prosecutors and lawyers for Suharto to try to reach a settlement among themselves.
Indonesian law requires a good-faith effort at settlement before proceeding in civil cases. The court gave the parties one month to reach a deal before moving ahead with the case.
The lawsuit follows an unsuccessful attempt in 2000 to launch criminal proceedings against Suharto over alleged corruption. Suharto's lawyers at that time prevailed, arguing the 86-year-old was too sick to stand trial.
The current suit seeks US$1.54 billion in damages and missing funds. It alleges money was channeled from the Indonesian Central Bank through state-owned banks to a Suharto-headed fund, which was was said to finance education scholarships, but the money was never accounted for.
"We just want the money back," prosecutor Dachmer Munthe said.
Suharto lawyer Mohamed Assegaf has repeatedly denied Suharto was corrupt. He said yesterday it was unlikely that the case could be settled directly between the two parties and predicted it would take years for the judges to rule.
He declined to comment on the details of the suit, saying only that he intended to argue it had been filed illegally. Munthe said he was confident the lawsuit was legal.
Local and international anti-graft groups have alleged that Suharto and his family siphoned off billions of dollars in state funds during his rule.
Suharto has also been accused of presiding over massive human-rights violations, including the murder of as many as a million people in an anti-communist purge in the 1960s and the deaths of tens of thousands in restive provinces.
China has possibly committed “genocide” in its treatment of Uighurs and other minority Muslims in its western region of Xinjiang, the US Congressional-Executive Commission on China said in a report on Thursday. The bipartisan commission said that new evidence had last year emerged that “crimes against humanity — and possibly genocide — are occurring” in Xinjiang. It also accused China of harassing Uighurs in the US. China has been widely condemned for setting up complexes in Xinjiang that it describes as “vocational training centers” to stamp out extremism and give people new skills, which others have called concentration camps. The UN says that
A racing pigeon has survived an extraordinary 13,000km Pacific Ocean crossing from the US to find a new home in Australia. Now authorities consider the bird a quarantine risk and plan to kill it. Kevin Celli-Bird yesterday said he discovered that the exhausted bird that arrived in his Melbourne backyard on Dec. 26 last year had disappeared from a race in the US state of Oregon on Oct. 29. Experts suspect the pigeon that Celli-Bird has named Joe — after US president-elect Joe Biden — hitched a ride on a cargo ship to cross the Pacific. Joe’s feat has attracted the attention
The Polish Supreme Court on Friday quashed a lower court’s green light for the extradition of a businessman to China for alleged fraud, a charge he has denied, saying that he is being targeted for supporting Falun Gong. Polish authorities took Chinese-born Swedish citizen Li Zhihui, now 53, into custody in 2019 on an international warrant issued by China for alleged non-payment in a business deal, Krzysztof Kitajgrodzki, his Polish lawyer, told reporters. Following the Supreme Court ruling, the case would return to a lower appellate court for review. Kitajgrodzki told reporters that it was still not a given that his client
DELIVERING HOPE: The Japanese PM pledged to push ahead with plans to stage the Games, despite polls showing about 80% think they will not or should not happen Japanese Prime Minister Yoshihide Suga yesterday vowed to get the COVID-19 pandemic under control and hold the already postponed Olympic Games this summer with ample protection. In a speech opening a new session of parliament, Suga said that his government would revise laws to make disease prevention measures enforceable with penalties and compensation. Early in the pandemic, Japan was able to keep its caseload manageable with nonbinding requests for businesses to close or operate with social distancing, and for people to stay at home, but recent weeks have seen several highs in new cases per day, in part blamed on eased attitudes