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Last Updated: Monday, 30 October 2006, 10:23 GMT
Tommy Suharto freed from prison
Tommy Suharto upon his release from prison on 30 October 2006
Tommy Suharto will remain under surveillance for a year
The son of Indonesia's former President Suharto has been freed from jail on conditional release after serving only four years of a murder sentence.

Hutomo Mandala Putra, also known as Tommy, was given a 15-year sentence in 2002 following his conviction for ordering the killing of a judge.

His sentence was first cut to 10 years, and then reduced further.

Human rights activists and anti-corruption campaigners have voiced strong opposition to his release

Scuffles broke out as he was driven from the prison in east Jakarta.

His van was surrounded by dozens of reporters and photographers as he left for the prosecutor's office, where his release was made official.

'State of law'

Officials said Tommy Suharto was eligible for release after receiving his most recent sentence reduction along with thousands of other prisoners to mark Eid al-Fitr, the end of the holy Muslim month of Ramadan.

Under Indonesian law, prisoners who have shown good conduct and have served more than two-thirds of their sentence once the remissions are taken into account are eligible for parole.

Vice President Yusuf Kalla rejected criticism that the Indonesian authorities were favouring him because of his family connections.

"This is a state of law," he told reporters. "Once he completes his sentence ... he should be released."

Officials said he would remain on parole for a year.

A leading Indonesian human rights lawyer, Johnson Pandjaitan, said it was wrong to view the release as automatic.

"Conditional release is never automatic. Nothing is really automatic. It should go through a certain process," he told Reuters news agency.

Embezzlement charges

The 44-year-old former playboy was found guilty in 2002 on charges of murder, weapons possession and evading justice.

He was convicted of masterminding the assassination of Supreme Court Judge Syafiuddin Kartasasmita who was shot dead by gunmen on a motorcycle.

Judge Kartasasmita had himself convicted Tommy for corruption and illegal possession of weapons.

Tommy's father Suharto stepped down in 1998 amid an economic crisis and rising discontent.

The 84-year-old ailing former leader is accused of embezzling millions of dollars in state funds during his three decades in power, a charge he denies.




VIDEO AND AUDIO NEWS
The press crowd around as Tommy Suharto is released



SEE ALSO
Tommy Suharto: Flamboyant playboy
30 Jul 02 |  Asia-Pacific
Tommy Suharto lodges appeal
09 Jul 03 |  Asia-Pacific
Tommy Suharto moved to prison isle
15 Aug 02 |  Asia-Pacific
Tommy Suharto guilty of murder
26 Jul 02 |  Asia-Pacific
Suharto leaves hospital for home
31 May 06 |  Asia-Pacific



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