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The BBC's Richard Galpin in Jakarta
"The case against him is gathering momentum"
 real 56k

Thursday, 3 August, 2000, 13:19 GMT 14:19 UK
Suharto faces corruption trial
Suharto in wheelchair
Lawyers had tried to claim Suharto was unfit for trial
Indonesia's former President Suharto has been formally charged with corruption.

The 79-year-old is accused of embezzling $400m from charities he ran during his 32 years in power.

Suharto's status, as of today, is as an accused

Spokesman for attorney-general
His lawyers say he is too ill to stand trial, after suffering a stroke.

But the decision to press ahead with corruption charges was confirmed to the BBC by the Indonesian attorney general.

Spokesman Yushar Yahya said: "Suharto's status, as of today, is as an accused.

"There will be a team of prosecutors, and they will make the indictment, which will be read in the court."

Attorney-general's official Yushar Yahya (left) with Suharto lawyer Juan Felix Tampubolon
Suharto's lawyer (right) was at his home as officials brought the news
Mr Suharto, who denies the charges, has been under house arrest in central Jakarta while the inquiry into his activities has proceeded.

He has been questioned several times by the investigation team, although lawyers and doctors have frequently halted the sessions.

Several members of his family have also been questioned.

The former president - forced from power two years ago - is accused of illegally amassing his fortune by using charities he ran as a vehicle to enrich his family and friends.

Family fortune
Suharto wealth estimated at more than $45bn
Total is enough to repay Indonesia's national debt
Suharto once placed sixth in world's richest men list
Children made vast wealth through government contracts
Daughter Tutut
Toll roads
Son Bambang
TV, property, telecoms
Son Tommy
Cars, cloves, cigarettes
Companies and civil servants were obliged to make donations to the foundations during Mr Suharto's regime.

He is then said to have siphoned off some of the money to invest in businesses run by his circle.

Officials have charged him with taking $400m, although some estimates put the figure as high as $550m.

And the new Indonesian leader, President Abdurrahman Wahid, has estimated that Mr Suharto's wealth amounts to around $45bn.

Mr Suharto's trial could begin as early as later this month.

President Wahid, has previously said Mr Suharto will be pardoned if found guilty, but should face trial.

Salted away

President Wahid has tried to broker a deal with the Suharto family for the return of the allegedly stolen funds.

Last year, the US news magazine, Time, estimated Mr Suharto and his family had salted away about $15bn, including $9bn in an Austrian bank.

Mr Suharto denied the report, saying he did not have a "single cent" stashed abroad. But he lost a defamation suit against the magazine.

Suharto's youngest son, Tommy, has been questioned
One member of the family has already appeared in court on corruption charges, but was acquitted.

Tommy Suharto, the ex-president's youngest son, was cleared of wrongdoing in a land-swap deal involving government property.

Prosecutors argued that Tommy had enriched himself and had cost the state $10.8m in the 1995 deal, which involved his supermarket chain PT Goro.

He was also questioned during the corruption investigation which led to the charges against his father.

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See also:

21 Jun 00 | Asia-Pacific
Suharto 'has $45bn' hidden away
10 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
Doctors stop Suharto questioning
13 Apr 00 | Asia-Pacific
Suharto placed under 'city arrest'
14 Oct 99 | Asia-Pacific
Suharto's son acquitted of corruption
03 Aug 00 | Asia-Pacific
Analysis: Suharto's promised pardon
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