SBY Leaves Soeharto Case To Law Enforcers

After coming under attack for his soft stance on the critically ill former dictator Soeharto, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has delegated the ex-president's corruption case to law enforcement. Yudhoyono said he would not intervene in the legal proces

SBY Leaves Soeharto Case To Law Enforcers

After coming under attack for his soft stance on the critically ill former dictator Soeharto, President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono has delegated the ex-president's corruption case to law enforcement. Yudhoyono said he would not intervene in the legal process on Soeharto "so as not to make mistakes" and because he wanted to see the supremacy of the law be upheld. "I'm not supposed to interfere so let law enforcers handle it," he told student activists in Bandung, while street protests demanding Soeharto's trial continued in major cities throughout the country Saturday.

The statement clarified Cabinet Secretary Yusril Ihza Mahendra's announcement last week that Yudhoyono would drop Soeharto's case and then rehabilitate his name. Yudhoyono made the statement in front of 11 student leaders from various universities in Bandung, who gave him a petition demanding that his administration consistently pursue political and educational reforms as it had promised. The statement came a week after he stirred national resentment by saying he would not decide anything on the Soeharto case until the controversy settled down.

Critics say Yudhoyono should take a firm stance on Soeharto, while the former president's supporters have demand clemency and his opponents a fair trial. Adding fuel to the debate was Attorney General Abdul Rahman Saleh's decision to stop the corruption charges on the grounds Soeharto was too sick to stand trial. Abdul Rahman tried to calm the public by promising he would file a civil case against Soeharto to regain his money and assets. Soeharto was charged in 2000 with embezzling US$419 million and Rp 1.3 trillion through seven of his charitable foundations during his 32 year reign over Indonesia. The legal proceedings were postponed the same year, when doctors declared Soeharto to have suffered permanent brain damage after a stroke.

But his political opponents are demanding Soeharto be taken to court for his alleged crimes against humanity, such as the killing of hundreds of thousands of suspected communists in 1965 and the thousands of deaths that were the result of the 1989-1998 military operation in Aceh. In Jakarta, spokesman for the People's Consultative Assembly (MPR) Hidayat Nurwahid and long-time critic of Soeharto Amien Rais and thousands of students elsewhere stepped up the pressure for Soeharto's trial. Nurwahid said Soeharto's trial should continue because an 1998 MPR decree on corruption eradication explicitly requiring Soeharto and his cronies be taken to court remains in place.

The MPR decree was drafted as part of the political reforms to be pursued after the fall of Soeharto. "Reformation should not stop and Soeharto has to be tried," he said. Amien Rais said to pardon Soeharto without due legal process, as the former dictator's supporters were demanding, was unacceptable. "If this happens, it would set a bad precedent in which corrupt top officials could demand the same thing," he said. Students took to the streets in Palembang, South Sumatra; Makassar, South Sulawesi; Semarang and Surabaya, demanding Soeharto should be brought to trial and his assets be seized for the state.

In Makassar, scores of students picketed the local prosecutors' office, demanding the Attorney General's Office revoke its decision to halt criminal charges against Soeharto. In Surabaya, hundreds of students clashed with police who blocked their way to the state-owned radio station, RRI, where they planned to air their demands. No injuries were reported.

The Jakarta Post

Last Mod: 20 Eylül 2018, 18:16
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