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Last Updated: Thursday, 11 May 2006, 11:23 GMT 12:23 UK
Indonesia reviewing Suharto case
Former Indonesian President Suharto. File photo
Suharto has been dogged by ill health in recent years
The Indonesian government is discussing whether to drop a corruption case against former President Suharto.

Mr Suharto, 84, has just undergone surgery for intestinal bleeding - the latest in a series of health problems.

Mr Suharto ruled Indonesia for 32 years before he was ousted in 1998 amid nationwide protests.

His former speech writer said the charges could be dropped soon, but a presidential official said no decision had been taken yet.

"God willing, the attorney general will soon issue an order declaring the investigation over," Mr Suharto's former aide, State Secretary Yusril Ihza Mahendra, said after visiting him in hospital.

Officials met Indonesian President Susilo Bambang Yudhoyono late on Wednesday to discuss the issue.

Mr Mahendra, who said he has been asked to gather documents on Mr Suharto's legal and health matters ahead of a decision, said officials were working out how to proceed.

"A decision has not yet been taken about whether it will be an amnesty... an order to halt the trial, or a closure of the dossier according to the penal code," state news agency Antara quoted him as saying.

Travel ban

But a presidential spokesman said no decision had been made.

Born in Java, June 1921
As army minister, plays a central role in helping Sukarno overcome a coup in 1965
Becomes president March 1967
Modernisation programmes in the 70s and 80s raise living standards
East Timor forcibly annexed in late 1975
Asian economic crisis of the 1990s hits Indonesian economy
Spiralling prices and discontent force him to resign in May 1998
Judges rule he is unfit to stand trial for corruption in 2000

"The president only sought inputs and suggestion from everyone and has ordered officials to gather the necessary documents so that he can decide what should be done," Andi Mallarangeng told the AFP news agency.

Meanwhile, the attorney general lifted a travel ban against Mr Suharto and said he could go abroad for medical treatment if necessary.

Mr Suharto was accused of embezzling $600m (322m) in state funds during his years in office, but judges suspended the case against him in 2000 when a panel of doctors said he was too ill to stand trial after a series of strokes.

In April, the Indonesian attorney general said he would ask doctors to re-assess the former leader's fitness after signs his health was improving.

A decision to drop charges against Mr Suharto would prove controversial.

Besides corruption allegations, Mr Suharto has also faced regular accusations of human rights abuses, including in East Timor, where tens of thousands of people died during Indonesia's occupation.

His supporters credit him with leading his country from poverty to relative prosperity.

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