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Last Updated: Monday, 10 September 2007, 16:39 GMT 17:39 UK
Time ordered to pay Suharto $106m
Former Indonesian President Suharto (file image from May 2005)
Mr Suharto has always denied the allegations against him
US magazine giant Time has been ordered to pay $106m (52m) in damages to the former Indonesian President Suharto.

Indonesia's highest court overturned the decision of two lower courts and ruled that the Time article, published in 1999, defamed the former ruler.

The article alleged $73bn had passed through the Suharto family's hands during the president's 32-year reign.

A lawyer for Mr Suharto welcomed the ruling, but there was no immediate word from Time magazine.

The magazine's only legal avenue is a judicial review, which requires fresh evidence or a procedural dispute, the BBC's Kate Hamann in Jakarta reports.

Four-month investigation

A spokesman for Indonesia's Supreme Court said the ruling was made by a panel of judges on 30 August.

They had ordered the magazine to pay $106m in damages and publish an apology in various Time editions as well as Indonesian publications, the spokesman, Nurhadi, said.

The court "found the article has damaged the reputation and honour of the grand general of the Indonesian armed forces and former president of Indonesia", he said.

Time published the article in its Asian edition a year after President Suharto was forced to resign after public protests.

It said the evidence was gathered during a four-month probe involving correspondents in 11 countries.

The article alleged that the Suharto family had amassed some $73bn "in revenues and assets" during his rule, but lost much of it during the 1997 Asian financial crisis.

The article, entitled "Family Firm", claimed the Suharto family still had $15bn in 1999.

Mr Suharto filed a defamation suit against the magazine, originally seeking more than $27bn in damages.

His case was rejected by Jakarta's District Court in 2000 and then the Appeal Court in 2001, before succeeding with the Supreme Court.

Civil case

Mr Suharto has long faced allegations of amassing a fortune while in power - claims he has always denied.

A criminal case against him was blocked by the courts last year on the grounds of the 86-year-old's ill health.

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

Prosecutors have since tried to bring a civil case against the former president, seeking $440m they claim disappeared from a state scholarship fund, and $1.1bn in damages.

They said they are set to return to court after failing to reach an out-of-court settlement with the defence lawyers as requested by the judge at the hearing last month.

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