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Friday, 26 July, 2002, 14:09 GMT 15:09 UK
Tommy Suharto guilty of murder
Tommy Suharto
Tommy Suharto had always denied the accusations
An Indonesian court has jailed the younger son of former President Suharto to 15 years on charges of murder, weapons possession and evading justice.

The defendant has been proven guilty of all the charges

Presiding Judge Amiruddin Zakaria

The five-member panel convicted him of masterminding the assassination of a judge who had himself handed down a prison term on Tommy for corruption, for illegal possession of weapons and for evading justice.

The judges could have imposed a life sentence or even the death penalty at the end of the trial, which has been seen as a key test of a legal system denounced as corrupt.

Neither Tommy nor his defence team was in court to hear the judgement after they failed to win a delay in proceedings.

Presiding Judge Amiruddin Zakaria
The presiding judge refused to halt the verdict
The BBC's correspondent in Jakarta, Richard Galpin, says there will be anger that the judges accepted the prosecution recommendation for a 15-year sentence, when harsher punishment had been available.

But he added that the conviction for a member of the Indonesian family once seen as untouchable would be encouraging for those wanting to see the derided legal system reformed.

Full term?

An appeal is expected to be filed.

And while Tommy will start his jail sentence as he is already in custody, our correspondent said it was impossible to predict if he would serve the full term.

Presiding Judge Amiruddin Zakaria said: "The defendant has been proven guilty of all the charges."

An empty defendant's chair in the Jakarta court hearing Tommy Suharto's case
Tommy Suharto's chair remained empty as the verdict was read
One of the other judges, Andi Samsan Nganro, said Tommy paid 100 million rupiah ($11,000) to the two assailants and ordered them to kill Supreme Court Judge Syafiuddin Kartasasmita.

"It is true that the defendant instructed them [the hitmen] to commit a criminal act and in fact the two carried it out," he said.

Judge Nganro said the gun used to kill the judge in a drive-by shooting in July 2001 belonged to Tommy, whose real name is Hutomo Mandala Putra.

Fugitive from justice

Tommy was also convicted for trying to flee justice.

He had gone on the run in November 2000 after attempts to have his corruption conviction overturned or pardoned failed.

Tommy is not running from justice - this is not a ploy

Defence lawyer
He evaded capture for more than a year - during which time the judge was killed - heaping ridicule on the police who once caught up with him, only for him to escape.

Defence lawyers had attempted to have the proceedings halted at the start of the day on Friday after Tommy complained of feeling ill and requested a doctor visit him in prison.

He was found to be suffering from diarrhoea and dizziness but the court decided this was not sufficient to delay the trial further.

Defence lawyer Felix Tampubolon leaves the court
Defence lawyer Felix Tampubolon and his team walked out in protest
Prosecutors had had to wait a week before making their sentencing requests after another bout of sickness and our correspondent said Tommy would have had to have been freed if the trial had not finished by 3 August.

The six defence lawyers walked out of court when their request was turned down.

Judge Zakaria told the lawyers: "We won't give you any more opportunities to talk." That prompted applause from the packed public gallery.

The BBC's Richard Galpin reports from Jakarta
"Tommy Suharto... has not been able to stand above the law"
The BBC's Rachel Harvey
"For Mrs Megawati, the conclusion of this trial couldn't have come at a better time"
See also:

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