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Last Updated: Monday, 9 July 2007, 08:31 GMT 09:31 UK
Civil suit filed against Suharto
Former Indonesian President Suharto (file image from May 2005)
The former leader has been in poor health in recent years
Prosecutors in Indonesia have filed a civil lawsuit against former President Suharto, to recover state funds they say went missing under his rule.

They are seeking $440m (219m) they say disappeared from a scholarship fund, and a further $1.1bn in damages.

Prosecutors have been under pressure to file a civil case, since the courts blocked a criminal case last year on the grounds of Suharto's ill health.

The 86-year-old former dictator ruled Indonesia for 32 years.

He was ousted in 1998 amid nationwide protests, with Indonesia's economy hard-hit by the Asian financial crisis.

Ill health

"This is not a criminal case against corruption, but a civil lawsuit," said public prosecutor Dachamer Munthe.

"We just want the money back. It could be used for the development of this country."

Prosecutors say the money went missing from an education foundation headed by Suharto. They have also requested that the foundation's headquarters be seized.

Suharto faced numerous allegations of corruption during his rule, but in May 2006 prosecutors closed the criminal case for corruption against him, citing health grounds.

The octogenarian has had a number of strokes and last year underwent stomach surgery.

Suharto left a controversial legacy from his three decades in power.

His supporters credit him with leading his country from poverty to relative prosperity, making Indonesia a force to be reckoned with in Asia.

But this economic growth came at a price - his regime was repressive and he repeatedly ignored demands for political reform.

He was also accused of allowing human rights abuses, most notably in East Timor.

Archive footage of former President Suharto

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