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Last Updated: Tuesday, 11 September 2007, 09:35 GMT 10:35 UK
Time vows to fight Suharto ruling
Former Indonesian President Suharto (file photo)
Mr Suharto has always denied the allegations against him
Time magazine will fight an Indonesian court ruling ordering it to pay $106m (52m) in damages to former President Suharto, Time's lawyer has said.

Todung Mulya Lubis described the ruling by Indonesia's highest court as a blow to press freedom.

A Supreme Court spokesman said on Monday it had ruled that a 1999 Time article defamed the former leader.

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

"We will use all means available to challenge this decision," Mr Lubis told a news conference.

"What is at stake here is not only Time but also the freedom of the press."

The lawyer said that Time had not been formally told of the Supreme Court decision, which a court spokesman said was reached on 30 August.

"We have to read the verdict before planning what legal measures to take... Time will not give in or accept the decision and will take appropriate legal measures," Mr Lubis told the AFP news agency.

Four-month investigation

Indonesian Supreme Court spokesman Nurhadi said on Monday that a panel of judges had overturned the decision of two lower courts and ruled in Mr Suharto's favour.

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

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," Mr Nurhadi said.

Time published the article, entitled "Family Firm", 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. It claimed the 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.




SEE ALSO
Time ordered to pay Suharto $106m
10 Sep 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Suharto case begins in Indonesia
09 Aug 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Civil suit filed against Suharto
09 Jul 07 |  Asia-Pacific
Suharto leaves hospital for home
31 May 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Suharto 'gravely ill' in hospital
19 May 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Suharto corruption case dropped
12 May 06 |  Asia-Pacific
Indonesia reviewing Suharto case
11 May 06 |  Asia-Pacific

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