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Friday, 28 December, 2001, 08:18 GMT
Suharto leaves hospital
Suharto smiled and waved as he left the hospital
Suharto smiled and waved as he left the hospital
Indonesia's former President Suharto has left hospital after receiving more than 10 days' treatment for pneumonia, amid a growing row over whether to drop charges of corruption against him involving more than $550m.

Suharto looked tired but smiled and waved from his wheelchair before climbing into a waiting vehicle.


Considering that Suharto is in a very ill condition, he may not be able to stand the trial

Chief Security Minister, Bambang Yudhoyono
A spokeswoman at the Pertamina hospital in Jakarta, where he was being treated, said the pneumonia had gone and Suharto was getting better.

But doctors said he would never fully recover from a sequence of illnesses, including at least one stroke, since he was forced to step down in 1998.

A doctor assigned to monitor the case by the president, Dr Kunindro Dadi, said Suharto's condition was such that he must not be allowed to feel sad or receive bad news.

'Alternatives'

Indonesian President Megawati Sukarnoputri has raised the possibility of abolishing the charges against 80-year-old Suharto on humanitarian grounds.

And Indonesia's Chief Security Minister, Bambang Yudhoyono, said on Friday that considering Suharto's poor health, the authorities have been trying to formulate alternatives to a trial.

"It could be a dismissal of charges," he said, "it could be non-dismissal of charges by attorney general, or court, or status quo."

Last year a corruption trial against the former president was abandoned because of his poor health.

But human rights activists and independent lawyers have been angered by the possibility that Suharto could escape having to account for abuses during his 32 years in power.

They say the credibility of Indonesia's justice system is at stake and if the former president is too ill to attend court he should be tried in absentia.

Poor health

Suharto lost consciousness two weeks ago while fasting for Ramadan.

In June, the former president was rushed to hospital after collapsing at home with low blood pressure and an irregular heartbeat. He was treated and fitted with a pacemaker.

Suharto ruled Indonesia with an iron fist for 32 years before being forced out of office in 1998 amid riots and pro-democracy protests.

He is accused by critics of amassing a multi-billion dollar fortune during that time.

See also:

20 Dec 01 | Asia-Pacific
Court convicts Suharto's grandson
19 Dec 01 | Asia-Pacific
Doctors say Suharto is stable
17 Dec 01 | Asia-Pacific
Suharto in hospital
13 Dec 01 | Asia-Pacific
Tommy Suharto 'owes' jail time
05 Oct 00 | Asia-Pacific
Prosecutors chase Suharto again
06 Apr 00 | Health
40 years of the heart pacemaker
28 Sep 00 | Asia-Pacific
Suharto's fortune
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